Switzerland and Ukraine strengthen bilateral relations
Bern, 07.06.2017 - Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, spent Wednesday, the second day of his visit to Ukraine, in discussions focused on strengthening bilateral relations, Swiss aid, efforts to ensure peace in Ukraine and strengthening cooperation in the field of migration. Mr Burkhalter met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkine, Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons Vadym Chernysh, and representatives of the Ukrainian civil society.
On Tuesday Mr Burkhalter visited Swiss humanitarian projects to improve healthcare capabilities and ensure water purification to supply drinking water to some 4 million people on both sides of the contact line separating the communities in Ukraine. He noted that Switzerland had provided technical cooperation support to Ukraine for the past 20 years and would continue to do so. Many important reforms are already under way, but Ukraine must step up its democratisation, decentralisation and anti-corruption efforts, said Mr Burkhalter. In his view, contacts between Ukrainians living in the areas controlled by the government and those living on the other side of the contact line, i.e. in areas not under its control, should be encouraged. Switzerland also expects progress in the political arena in order to bring peace and reconciliation to the over 40 million inhabitants of the country, of which the eastern part has been devastated by a conflict that continues to claim lives.
At the close of his meeting with Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Mr Burkhalter signed two agreements negotiated with Ukraine by the Federal Department of Justice and Police aimed at strengthening cooperation in the field of migration. The first, a readmission agreement, simplifies regulations on the return to Ukraine of persons ordered to leave Switzerland.
The bilateral visa facilitation agreement, which was signed at the same time, lowers the threshold of proof required for justifying the purpose of the journey for certain categories of people. It also sets out simplified criteria for multiple-entry visa applications, reduces the processing time, and lowers visa costs. The agreement will come into effect after ratification by both parties but will only apply to holders of non-biometric Ukrainian passports.
This is because from 11 June 2017, Ukrainian citizens with biometric passports will no longer need a visa for stays of up to 90 days within a total period of 180 days in the Schengen area. The Federal Council adopted on 2 June 2017 an amendment to the Ordinance on Entry and the Granting of Visas, thereby adopting the regulation approved by the European Council and the European Parliament which is a development of the Schengen acquis.
Visas are still required for people seeking gainful employment.
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for information about signed agreements:
Martin Reichlin (DFJP/SEM)
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