Ukraine Scraps Visas for Canadian, EU Citizens

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine said Thursday it was scrapping visas for Canadians from Aug. 1 and extending visa-free travel for travelers from the European Union as part of President Viktor Yushchenko's plan to move closer to the West.

A presidential decree posted on his Web site said visas would no longer be required for Canadian visitors coming into Ukraine for less than 90 days.

Another decree on the same site said visa-free travel for citizens of the EU countries and Switzerland would be extended beyond the initial deadline of Sept. 1.

Ukraine canceled visas for EU travelers in March for a four-month trial period from May to September.

Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk has previously said the experiment was successful and the number of EU tourists to Ukraine has more than doubled since May 1 when the cancellation took effect.

Citizens of Japan have also been allowed to travel to Ukraine without visas. Visa requirements for U.S nationals have been considerably simplified.

Yushchenko, elected after a popular "Orange Revolution" against electoral fraud at the end of last year, wants to take his ex-Soviet country of 47 million people closer to the European mainstream and aims for EU membership.

Yushchenko, who has already made a dozen visits to Western countries since taking power in January, has also urged foreign governments to ease their visa regimes for Ukrainians.

But so far no country has said it will lift visa restrictions for Ukrainians in the near future.

Source: Reuters