Archive for the ‘Ukraine Visa’ Category


Riga Summit – To Visa-free or not to Visa-free? That is the question

March 19, 2015

Some months ago, in the usual Ukrainian populist (and therefore unwise) political manner, President Poroshenko stated he expected the Riga Summit in May to produce a Visa-free regime for Ukrainian tourists within the Schengen nations, beginning 2016.

“I would like to discuss the Eastern Partnership’s Riga summit to be held on May 21-22 with the European commissioner. It is extremely important to us, and our main expectation from the summit is a positive political decision of the EU, opening opportunities to us for the practical and technical introduction of visa-free regulations for Ukrainian citizens as early as by the end of this year.”

Clearly President Poroshenko is yet to learn to manage his own expectations, let alone those of his people – and this despite several lessons from the Europeans since Russia started its (guns and tanks) war with Ukraine.

Some would perhaps expect the president to tone down his expectations, and yet further curb his public rhetoric, when the illegal annexation of Crimea met with untimely, reactionary and timid sanctions from the Europeans.  This despite the gravity of Russia unilaterally throwing international instruments such as the Helsinki Final Act under a bus.

If that lesson was not enough, then the fact that the Europeans have not further enhanced such timid and untimely sanctions despite continued and consistent Russian sponsored (and managed) disregard of ceasefires under Minsk I and II, whilst not arming Ukraine with defensive lethal weaponry despite pleas to do so, is yet another lesson.

A further lesson to come, is likely to be the rebuffing of the Ukrainian request to the UN, Council of Europe and EU for peacekeepers following the favourable vote of 341 Rada MPs to make such an international request yesterday.  That Russia will likely veto any UN request is expected.  That the EU will not support an Eulex type mission in the absence of a UN mandate, despite the pleas of the host government, is a likely (though not definite) extension.  To do so without a UN mandate would be seen by too many capitals as a “provocation” that The Kremlin would react to – similar to arming Ukraine when it requests it.  That such peacekeeping missions generally set, rather than roll-back, facts on the ground, is for now an irrelevance.

The Riga Summit in May is certainly not predisposed to deliver upon President Poroshenko’s publicly declared expectations relating to Visa-free travel for Ukrainian tourists within Europe.  If it doesn’t, then yet more political points will once again be lost by the president amongst the Ukrainian constituency that counts, the 20 – 45 demographic that is generally reform-minded.  Not the constituency any government carrying out unpopular reforms can afford to unnecessarily alienate or lose.  It is not that the reform-minded will be any more or less reform-minded with or without an EU Visa-free regime, it is a matter of further undermining belief in the words and political capital of the president.

Indeed, despite Ukraine finally introducing and issuing biometric passports – only those holding biometric passports would qualify for the Visa-free regime – and therefore now starting to meet the technical requirements, doubts remain regarding the EU allowing such free movement to go ahead regardless of Ukrainian adherence to European diktats.

This realisation is now starting to be understood within the Ukrainian government – only after having trumpeted its expectations to the public.  Pavlo Klimkin has started stating that the EU is in no rush to deliver on the agreement – “The EU has concerns about security. And that’s one of the Russian scenarios. The European capitals say: how can we give Ukraine a visa-free regime if there is no control over the border?”

That would seem entirely sensible – prima facie – except Ukraine has more than one border between eastern Ukraine/the Donbas, and the EU.  One in the east has a Russian created hole in it – the others not.  Ukraine’s common borders with the EU nations remain as robust (or porous) as they were prior to Kremlin actions in the east.

So is it really as entirely sensible as that statement appears prima facie?

What security concerns are increased by allowing a Visa-free regime only for those that hold a biometric passport?

As the entire point of a biometric passport is that is it a far more robust form of identity, it is surely a far better document to insure the holders identity is genuine, and thus European security is enhanced.  Otherwise the Europeans would not insist upon its introduction as part of the Visa-free regime, and only accept those that hold a biometric passport as qualifying for Visa-free travel.   45 million Ukrainians stampeding over the EU borders, biometric passports in hand, upon any Visa-free regime implementation is not going to happen – a Kremlin controlled hole in its eastern border or not.

Biometric passports, having only just begun to be produced and issued a few weeks ago, therefore remain as rare as rocking horse sh*t.  It will take years to issue biometric passports to all Ukrainians that want one – perhaps close to a decade to issue them to all Ukrainians if they were to become a mandatory internal document too.

Thus even with a very simplified Visa regime, for the vast majority of Ukrainians that will not hold biometric passports any time soon, it will be the EU Member States that will continue to grant most Ukrainians their Visas.  The issue of European security will remain with a starting point that is the EU Member State that grants the Schengen Visa for years to come.

As of today, the EU Member States are still issuing Ukrainians with Visas.  The Schengen Visas are not biometric (unlike the UK Visa) and neither are the Ukrainian passports into which they are affixed.

By way of example, the Greek Consulate in Odessa has a Schengen Visa turnaround time of between 24 – 72 hours (Bravo).  Aside from, perhaps, an Interpol, Europol search and/or check with the Greek national police database – or not – it seems that refusal is likely only to be due to the documents being completed incorrectly, or a required supporting document being absent (unless you happen to be on a “list” of those deemed unwelcome).  Otherwise, it is welcome to Greece, please spent a lot of cash whilst you are here – and by extension, welcome to the other Schengen nations should you decide to fly onward from Athens.

The lack of Ukrainian control of its borders in the east with Russia has been the case for almost 12 months, and is not likely to be reestablished any time soon.  Throughout the duration, and without suspension or interruption, the EU Schengen Member States have continued to issue non-biometric Visas to non-biometric Ukrainian passports.  To this day, the normal, non-biometric service (or lack of service, depending upon issuing Member State) continues.  Clearly there has been little overt reaction to the ruptured Ukrainian border in the east when it comes to changing the Visa system, or refusing/suspending access across the Ukrainian-European border to the west.

It therefore seems unclear how Visa-free biometric passport holders would radically change the status quo regarding security.

Thus what EU “security concerns” can be raised in delaying (indefinitely) its promises that facilitate a Visa-free regime only for those with a far more robust biometric travel document?

It is easier to fake or obtain a fraudulent biometric passport than it is a non-biometric passport in Ukraine already?  Unlikely.

Does a Visa-free regime for biometric passport holders remove or invalidate all the other security measures the EU has at its borders?  Measures that have not noticeably changed since Russia punched a hole into Ukraine’s eastern border a year ago.

Would the ability to stop, check, detain or return individuals be somehow lessened due to the commencement of a Visa-free regime for those with biometric passports?  No.

Are the increased security concerns relating to “terrorism” and “terrorists” from eastern Ukraine entering the EU and causing havoc?

The Ukrainians, Americans and Europeans waste no time in identifying the real identities behind the “call-signs” of those fighting in eastern Ukraine.  Are these people more, or less, likely to try and gain a Ukrainian biometric passport, or attempt to get a non-biometric Visa in a non-biometric passport, if wanting to head into Europe as a Ukrainian for the purposes of mischief?

Perhaps all intelligence relating to the nefarious, the suspected, or the wanted, ceases to either exist, be shared, or be actioned, due to biometric passport holders being granted Visa-free?  Has intelligence sharing decreased, rather than increased, between the EU and Ukraine since the war with Russia took a physical format?  One would suspect something of an intelligence sharing uplift.

As the Europeans at least go so far as publicly acknowledging many fighting against Kyiv in eastern Ukraine are “Russian volunteers”, have the European schengen nations reduced the amount of Visas they are granting to Russian citizens, or introduced additional checks upon Russian applicants – just in case they fought in The Donbas whilst “on holiday”?  It is more likely the EU will be keen to increase the amount of Visas issued to Russians, rather than reduce them, in an attempt to show EU greener grass and administer democracy and rule of law to those that visit via osmosis – as flawed or as hopeful a policy as that may or may not be.

Are there not enough willing, if less than bright, already within the EU that will act on the Kremlin behalf?  All those loony-left and swivel-eyed far right that are attracted to the Alexander Dugin flypaper – possibly for later cultivation by the Russian secret services – obviously exist in numbers sufficient to question whether an “eastern terrorist” will have to go follow the “biometric path” to enter and then engage in nefariousness within the EU.  That is if the “eastern Ukrainian terrorist” hasn’t already been granted a non-biometric Schengen Visa in an existing non-biometric passport, of course.

Is the security concern one of people, drugs, cigarettes or gun trafficking?

Is the Russian made hole in the Ukrainian eastern border now seeing a Golden Horde of Central Asian people flooding through it, en route to the EU to claim asylum?

Are illegal arms floating across the Danube Delta into Romania, or by train into Poland from Ukraine?  If so, is the success of such enterprises to be increased by orders of magnitude for a Visa-free biometric passport holder?  It seems unlikely.

Are Ukrainian biometric passport holders within a Visa-free tourist regime more likely to try and claim asylum or refugee status within the EU, than those that enter on a non-biometric passport with a non-biometric Tourist Visa perhaps?  The EU has hardly been inundated with Ukrainian refugees despite a year of war.

One may rhetorically ask if the EU-Ukraine readmission, after many reasonably successful years, has suddenly and mysteriously become null and void due to a Visa-free regime for biometric passport holders – or whether Ukraine remains obliged to robustly fulfill its bilateral commitments relating to its own, and third nation, migration and border responsibilities?  One has to suspect the latter remains very much the case.

Thus, in the absence of any clearly identifiable “security concerns” that have not caused any overt changes in the EU system of border management or granting of Schengen entry to Ukrainians since Russia punched a hole in its eastern border – one is left to wonder just how a Visa-free regime for biometric passport holders significantly increases European security risks, rather than decreasing them, per their purpose.

If the “security concerns” are indeed negligible (and they may be genuine based on something other than the obvious), what are the real reasons behind any European delay in implementing the Visa-free regime with Ukraine?

That the Kremlin won’t like Ukraine becoming Visa-free before Russia, and some EU nations don’t want to upset The Kremlin any further?

That Ukraine is nowhere near as technically ready as it claims to be – despite officially moving from Stage I to Stage II of the Visa facilitation agreement?

Is European domestic public opinion a hurdle with immigration being high on all political agendas?

Perhaps we will discover just what the “security concerns” actually are/purported to be, when the Riga Summit commences in May – then again, perhaps not.  In the meantime, it seems that President Poroshenko is quite likely to be given yet another public lesson by the EU regarding “expectations”.


Diplomatic rehabilitation opportunities?

June 7, 2014

If ever The Kremlin has the opportunity not only to partially undo, but also significantly rehabilitate itself on the global diplomatic stage, then June is the month for it to do so.

This month Russia assumed the chair of the United Nations Security Council – a particularly good and headline grabbing time to score diplomatic points and victories for the international and domestic audience.

Yesterday I tweeted:

And why not?

When your foreign policy is often considered obstructive by the vast majority of UN Members, Charter bodies and regional institutions, and when many a nation – particularly those that you neighbour – consider you to have crudely coercive, distabalising and unhelpful fingers in regional and global pies – sometimes quite rightly, other times less so – then it is not overly hard to score internationally significant diplomatic points and public relations coups by toning down your own actions to create progress and/or miracle solutions when sat in the ultimate headline grabbing UN diplomatic seat.

Add to that, in the case of Ukraine, a recent election that only sees the winner inaugurated at 10.oo hours tomorrow – thus allowing The Kremlin to blame other Ukrainian politicians for the bloody events of the past months in eastern Ukraine, rather than the new president – another diplomatic enabler presents itself.

Time to return the Russian Ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, after months of absence for “consultations”, when two such planets align?  It certainly is.

Whilst Crimea will rightly remain a durable problematic issue – any other progress can then be thrown to the war-readied Russian domestic audience as plausible Kremlin global leadership from the UN “hot seat” where others have failed – thereby also somewhat soothing rabid Russian societal ire whipped up by The Kremlin over the past few months too.

The question is whether The Kremlin will use these opportunities to tame its own actions to make its UNSC chair seen as an unqualified success – or not?

Is there a better time to take a solid pace back from current tactics – even if just to change them for another – when painting such steps as a major international victory is low hanging fruit that can be tossed to the baying  domestic masses as further proof of Russian superiority?

Such planets do not align often.  An interesting month within the UNSC awaits.



Ukraine seriously lagging behind Moldova with EU Visa Free road map

November 7, 2013

Over a year ago, I wrote this regarding Moldova overtaking Ukraine with regards to a Visa-free regime with the EU, despite Ukraine having had a head start in the process.  I pondered whether national embarrassment would shame the Ukrainian political class into doing what was necessary, insofar as at least in beating Moldova to the Visa-free regime finish line.

Unfortunately the feckless political class of Ukraine  – and I use the word feckless quite deliberately, invoking the political science definition in its absolute – has allowed matters to stagnate so much that Moldova is likely to be Visa-free with the EU in 2014/15 whilst Ukraine – possibly, may be, who knows –  will have just about completed Stage 1 of the Visa-free road map and be limping into Stage 2 by that time.

However, I suppose we should not be surprised.  As I have written the political class is feckless in its entirety.  Many of them have dual nationality, yet more have permanent residency in various European nations, and the remainder have diplomatic passports – no EU Visas required for them!

The lack of progress, some may infer, would have something to do with the above and the below definition of a feckless political class:

“Countries whose political life is marked by feckless pluralism tend to have significant amounts of political freedom, regular elections, and alternation of power between genuinely different political groupings. Despite these positive features, however, democracy remains shallow and troubled. Political participation, though broad at election time, extends little beyond voting. Political elites from all the major parties or groupings are widely perceived as corrupt, self-interested, and ineffective. The alternation of power seems only to trade the country’s problems back and forth from one hapless side to the other. Political elites from all the major parties are widely perceived as corrupt, self-interested, dishonest, and not serious about working for their country. The public is seriously disaffected from politics, and while it may still cling to a belief in the ideal of democracy, it is extremely unhappy about the political life of the country.” – Thomas Carothers – End of the Transitional Paradigm, 2002

Though that definition so accurately describes the Ukrainian political class, it wasn’t specifically penned just for them, lest readers unfamiliar with Thomas Carothers work think otherwise.


Article 5 Directive 2004/38/EC – Being a “secret shopper” in Ukraine – Well done Greece, the only one to get it right!

July 20, 2013

Elsewhere in cyberspace issues have arisen over Article 5 of Directive 2004/38/EC amongst ex-patriots/immigrants in Ukraine relating to their Ukrainian families and their freedom to travel within the Schengen area of the EU.

In short, this Article provides that direct family members of EU citizens must be granted Schengen Visas free of charge and upon production of passports and marriage/birth certificates/irrefutable evidence of direct family ties – and no more.

Yet no EU individual had managed to achieve this feat, all EU national consulates and embassies demanding more documentation than is required to provide – such as plane tickets or hotel bookings and some financial evidence, employment history and more – in complete and flagrant violation of the above directive.

This is before we consider the recently implemented EU-Ukraine Visa Facilitation Agreement – which states:

The simplified procedure is also available to citizens who travel to the EU for medical treatment as well as to spouses, children (including adopted) parents (including custodians), grandparents and grandchildren, close relatives who intend to visit the EU citizens or citizens of Ukraine legally residing in the territory of the EU member states.

Of course to many ex-patriots, the Euro 35 Visa fee is no great financial burden.  The hassles and costs of any other documentation requested is more painful in time than money also.

Therefore one could suggest that our Ukrainian family members being treated like every other Ukrainian Schengen Visa applicant is no big deal – Well, you could suggest that if you care not of principle, do not care that the EU – so keen on lecturing Ukraine on adherence to rules – fails to insure the implementation of its own rules  via its Member States on Ukrainian soil.

Tails were recounted of the minimum documents required being OK but a fee charged, or free visa issuance but demands of flight or hotel booking (to insure family members were traveling with their EU spouses/parents) etc – but no tales of successful and complete compliance per the letter of the Directive by any Embassy or Consulate.

“EU countries are obliged to grant your third country family members every facility to obtain the necessary visas. These should be issued free of charge as soon as possible and on the basis of an accelerated procedure. The Commission considers that delays of more than four weeks are not reasonable.
EU countries may only require entry visas for your family members; they may not require family or residence visas.

The right of entry of your third country family members is derived from their family ties with you, an EU citizen. All the consular officials can ask for is their passport and a document establishing their family ties with you, such as a marriage or birth certificate and proof of dependence, where applicable. Your family members cannot be asked to present documents such as travel tickets, employment certificate, pay slips, bank statements, proof of accommodation and means of subsistence or a medical certificate.”

Is that no clear to even the most retarded?

Well it is my wife’s birthday at the end of the month – so prompted by this systemic failure to adhere to this Directive – we decided to apply for a free Schengen Visa under this Directive at various randomly selected consulates in Odessa.

The very first problem is the Ukrainian employees dealing with Visa applications at national consulates.  None knew of this Directive and none would read it and the provisions therein – even when presented with it in writing in English and in Russian – Quite simply if it deviated from the general rules every Ukrainian is subjected to regarding what documents must be submitted, then no Visa application would be processed.  (In such cases I would suggest other EU citizens pursuing this, email directly the relevant Consular Generals, Ambassadors and EU SOVIT teams – who should – hopefully –  put matters right.)

Those that caved to my persistence and made appointments with consular staff did so extremely unwillingly.  Those that did not refused to give their full names to be mentioned in formal complaints to the Consulate Generals/Ambassadors and national SOLVIT teams for which they work.

Upon seeing some consular staff – the demands for additional documentation kept coming – despite their awareness of Article 5 of this Directive – which I helpfully provided a copy of.

All in all, a spectacular fail by every national consulate I visited – except one.

The Greek Consulate was the only one to comply with this EU Directive, demanding only the documents they were allowed to demand and issuing the Visa for free.

Further, the Greek Consulate in Odessa also embraced the recently actioned EU-Ukraine Visa Facilitation Agreement, and did not issue a single entry 6 month Visa, but a multi-entry Greek Schengen Visa for the maximum amount of years possible under the agreement.

The Visa, I will add was issued within 23 hours of the application – or about 8 standard consular working hours.  Impossible not to be impressed!

So, Consulate General Mr Antonios Haziroglou, Mr Spyridon Mokas (the Attache who dealt with my wife) and the Greek consular team in Odessa – Bravo!  – The only ones to get this right and fully entering into the spirit of EU-Ukrainian Visa Facilitation Agreement as well.

For those Embassies and Consulates that read this blog within Ukraine (and I know there are a few), for those EU politicians that follow me on twitter and will read this via a link, for the hundreds of EU diplomats I am linked to on LinkedIn and will read this entry on my feed, for the 80 or so Ukrainian politicians that are “friends” on Facebook and will also see this via the feed etc – perhaps some “in-house” awareness of this issue would be in order, as there will soon be numerous Visa applications under Article 5 by EU citizens with Ukrainian families.

The next EU citizens living in Ukraine willing to act as “secret shoppers” are already lining up elsewhere in cyberspace to have a go in various cities at random consulates around Ukraine.  Ask yourselves whether you want your embassies/consulates to be named and shamed  on numerous websites and forums, not to mention regular referrals to the EC SOLVIT offices – or lauded as is the case for the Greek Consulate in Odessa – as this ball is just about to begin to roll.

All of this does leave me wondering just why the UK, land of my birth, insists on a 10 page Visa application form, a small rain forest in supporting documentation each and every time (which they no longer return as they used to do), plus up to a month to turn around a Visa for my wife – who has already held 5 UK Visas!

Now to prepare for the beautiful Hellenic Island of Crete!


Asylum, Schengen and proportional representation

May 18, 2013

Now here is an interesting little story – somewhat comical to a degree – which leads nicely into Ukrainian voting systems.

Andriy Shkil, a former Batkivshchnya (BYuT) MP of the previous parliament, has been refused asylum by the Czech Republic, a nation well known for granting asylum via the historical legacy of Vaclav Havel who rarely turned an application down.

Why did the Czech Republic refuse his application for asylum?

The answer lays within the Schengen Visa system.

Although free to travel anywhere within the Schengen area once a Ukrainian has a Schengen Visa, they have to enter and egress the Schengen zone via the specific nation that granted the Visa.  If Poland granted the Visa, a Ukrainian who wanted to visit Italy for example, would have to travel there and back via Poland.

Personally I don’t know a Ukrainian who isn’t aware of the rules – although undoubtedly there will be some.

Logic would dictate, following on from such basic rules, that if an individual is going to claim asylum somewhere within the EU, that also will necessarily need to occur in the nation that issued the Visa, rather than seeking asylum in any EU nation an individual may take a fancy to.  Ultimately, a nation issuing a Schengen Visa must have some responsibility for their decision to grant – or not – an individual entry, for it is their decision and not that of any other Schengen area state who may well have made a different decision.

And so, in a way, it is rather comical that a one-time parliamentarian – an individual supposedly bright enough to have been trusted in creating and supporting – or not – Ukrainian legislature, has tried to claim asylum in the Czech Republic on a Schengen Visa issued by France.

Naturally, had Mr Shkil been reelected to the current parliament, he would not be seeking asylum anywhere but enjoying the immunity and impunity being an MP brings – and the fact he is not in parliament today it is not because he was beaten in any constituency seat, but rather due to his very lowly place on the Batkivshchnya Party list when it comes to proportional representation.

The Ukrainian electoral system is a mixed electoral system where 50% of MPs are those who take office through what is officially called Single Member District Plurality (or First Past The Post as most would recognise it), and 50% of MP seats are in parliament due to how high they are placed on their party list vis a vis the percentage of the vote their party gets.

Naturally all the top places on party lists go to the leaders to insure their place in parliament without having to go through the rigors of actually standing against another in the first past the post system in a constituency seat – as they may lose and that would never do!

Placed at 87 on the Batkivshchyna Party list, either Mr Shkil was not willing to pay enough to those who make the party lists to be placed higher, or he was such a poor performer during his tenure that his placing was deliberately done to insure he would not return to parliament.  Given the high number of poor performers on most party lists, he was either simply out bid or truly useless beyond comprehension.

Anybody on party lists lower than position 50 are in a precarious position and are certainly not assured of representing a party in parliament.  87th on a party list is a clear signal you will not get your nose in the RADA trough.

Even if we look at the ways of manipulating the proportional representation part of the vote, 87th place would simply not have been high enough to reasonably expect a return to the RADA.

If we look at the independent form of mixed electoral systems, then the 50% of first past the post seats run completely separately and in parallel to the proportional representation 50%.  This system can lead, for example, to a party winning all the constituency seats and then half of the 50% of seats allocated by proportional representation – thus giving a party 75% of the parliamentary seats.

Alternatively there is the dependent mixed electoral system, whereby proportional representation places parameters on the system, thus is therefore somewhat dominant over first past the post.  For example if a party wins 40% of the national vote, then their party members who win their seats through the first past the post constituency elections take their seats, followed by a remainder from the party list until it reaches the 40% of the popular vote it won.

Yes there are occasions under the dependent system whereby a party may win more seats in the first past the post constituency seat elections, than it should hold under its share of the proportional vote count.  Should that be the case, these “overhanging” seats in excess of the proportional vote are honoured and the parliament extends to accommodate the additional MPs for that session – whilst everybody else is represented by their proportional share of the vote.

None of this would have helped Mr Shkil at such a lowly place on the Batkivshchnya Party list – and neither would manipulating the size of voting districts – as Ukraine, for the purposes of its proportional representation, is seen as one big district rather than allocations on a proportional basis by Oblast (county) level.

Quite simply, the smaller the district, the smaller the number of proportional seats available, and thus the higher the percentage of the vote needed to win a seat.  The larger the district, the more proportional seats available, the lower the percentage of the vote needed to win a seat – not rocket science (albeit political science summed up by the formula X  1/(X+1)).

Anyway, enough of that academic waffle – Mr Shkil is now in France duly seeking asylum there.  The question is, will France grant it given that it is not normally that accommodating compared to the Czech Republic – a nation that was obviously Mr Shkil’s first choice when submitting his asylum application.


Is working in Ukraine as a foreigner about to get easier?

April 24, 2013

As it is my umteenth anniversary today, and thus via the “ball and chain” and the goodwill of Ukraine, I have permanent residency here, this entry really does not affect me in any way.

In fact it doesn’t affect anybody I know either.

It will undoubtedly affect some readers however – both currently and in the future.

It seems that the State Employment Centre has made assurances that the current (and no doubt overly bureaucratic) systems for granting work permits and temporary resident status (for the purposes of work) are going to be simplified – requiring far less documentation than currently is required – especially so as far as renewals/extensions are concerned, and which will subsequently be gratis if granted for those who have navigated the bureaucratic circus before.

They also state that consideration is being given to raise the duration of such permits from 1 year to 3 years.

A particularly good idea should the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and DCFTA actually be signed – as not only will foreign confidence increase (to a greater or lesser degree) relating to entering the Ukrainian market at an SME/entrepreneurial level, those who want to do so, may actually stand a reasonable chance of navigating the bureaucratic hurdles that prevent so many currently.

It is necessary of course, to see just how the bureaucracy will be reduced – if at all – and I suspect not at all, other than the more expedited time line requirement for the bureaucracy to function and process applications.

Which documents will be subsequently scrapped from the current list will be far more interesting, as currently some of the documentation required is the barrier to entry – rather than the business environment itself!

Best guess thus far is here.


Eyes down for the Ukrainian draft law bingo numbers!

April 3, 2013

Well tomorrow should be an interesting day in the Ukrainian parliament.

Up for consideration are UDAR sponsored draft laws 2210 – an up until now completely absent method to impeach a sitting Ukrainian president – and draft law 2221 which is designed to strip the president, MPs, and judges of their immunity (and de facto impunity).

Both laws quite necessary in Ukraine.

However, as reasonable and sensible as these draft laws are in spirit (not to mention necessity), there is somewhat questionable content.

For example, draft law 2210 to enable impeaching a sitting president suggests that only 50 MPs signatures and support are required to bring the issue of impeachment to a full sitting of the RADA.  That seems an incredibly low number of MPs required to instigate a full impeachment session within the RADA.

In fact, given the extremely fractious, polarised and bitter environment that is the RADA, with such a low number of MPs required to raise any impeachment session before the entire RADA, regardless of which party is in power and which is in opposition, scarcely a week could go by without PoR, BYuT, Svoboda or UDAR raising 50 MPs from amongst their number to begin proceedings – without any external help from other MPs external of their parties.

The potential for continuous impeachment issues clogging up the RADA is seemingly immense.

Fortunately for impeachment to actually occur, the draft law requires a RADA majority of 226 for any impeachment to take place.  Altogether a rather more sensible and prima facie democratic number, and yet still rather low if we are to consider the situation whereby there is a parliamentary majority with an opposition president.  Perhaps a higher number yet is required to prevent the RADA becoming even more of a circus than it already is?

With respect to draft law 2221, then the removal of, in particular MPs immunity (and impunity), is something all parties have professed to support publicly historically – and yet none have ever actually done it when they had the chance and were in power.

There is a particular need to put in place some safeguards with relation to MPs when it comes to their actions when acting in an MP – rather than furthering their own private business interests.

In short, with the necessary scrapping of immunity, MPs would need some form of parliamentary privilege to be able to say what they want to within the RADA that will keep them clear of slander, libel or defamation lawsuits.

A vibrant democracy demands that MPs (as well as the media and individuals) should be free to offend, shock or disturb others – be that unease be felt by the public or fellow MPs.  Something the ECfHR was very careful to identify in the case of Erbakan v Turkey (Case number 59405/00 ss56, 6.07.2006).

However, such is the misuse of the People’s Deputies immunity by politicians across all parties, it is an issue that simply must be addressed and rectified – as all parties have publicly stated at one time or another they support.

Why this has not happened seems to be in the timing.  Those at the trough always seem far more reluctant to progress this matter than when they were in opposition.  That is true of the current majority and the current opposition when their roles were reversed.

Anyway, tomorrow when we are listening to the draft law bingo numbers being called out for consideration in the RADA, it will be interesting to see if drafts 2221 and 2210 are amongst those tabled for debate – as is currently the plan.


Italy to open Consulate in Odessa soon

April 2, 2013

A very short and sweet entry today.

Yet another diplomatic mission will soon open in Odessa – this time Italian – which will please the good woman if it has the ability to produce Visas, as Italy is a nation that particularly attracts her for reasons of history, architecture, food and of course fashion.

Very good.  That makes half a dozen Consulates opened in Odessa in as many years and leaves Odessa housing close to 20 diplomatic missions.

Naturally the UK isn’t one of them – not even an Honorary Consul, despite an ever growing and vibrant local diplomatic community – but I have come to expect nothing less.

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