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Adrienne Warren

Leaving on a Jet Plane: Visa-Free Travel to the EU

With Croatia’s accession to the European Union questions are once again being raised about the future implications for the country, and would-be tourists, in terms of visas. The EU is currently pushing forward visa negotiations with several neighbours who are not part of the Union, such as Ukraine, Moldova and Azerbaijan. Armenia has already opened visa-free travel this year with Schengen states.  But, don’t pack your bags just yet, there may be some small print…

Horizon, Croatia. author: darkmatter. source: flickr

Horizon, Croatia. author: darkmatter. source: flickr

Excitement abounds as Croatian, the Balkan haven which boasts over 1000 islands joined the European Union, implying that future travel restrictions and visa limitations would be removed. Croatian officials are hoping that the EU entry will make access even easier for EU citizens, who will no longer have to deal with customs clearance. However, the newly enrolled member is not a member of the Schengen Area.

Although future visa-free travel and living potential is ensured to other EU citizens, there is a downside for Croatia. While a country heavily reliant on tourism,  Croatia will have to introduce visas for the citizens of non-EU states, such as Russia and Ukraine, which is likely to deter them from choosing Croatia as their holiday destination.

 Meanwhile, in other visa news, Ukrainian citizens will now face fewer hurdles to travel to the EU under an amended EU-Ukraine visa facilitation agreement, which entered into force. A revised agreement between the EU and Ukrains simplifies requirements for a wider category of applicants, including representatives of civil society organisations, journalists, professionals participating in international exhibitions, conferences and seminars, and such. The aim is to facilitate short-stay visas for visits of up to a total of 90 days. The revised agreement also abolishes the €70 visa fee.

Moldova also confirmed at the end of June their devotion for keeping visa-free travel for EU and CIS citizens, as the government reiterated their resolve to simplify the regulation of travel to Moldova for certain countries.

Likewise, negotiations on visa facilitation between the EU and Azerbaijan are very close to conclusion, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle spoke after negotiations with the South Caucasus country in May, saying:

“The agreement will allow Azerbaijani people to benefit from the procedures to travel to the EU. Hopefully, we can finalize it in the near future.”

Neighbouring Georgia, however, is having less cooperative visa-dialogues these days, as Georgia’s Foreign Ministry says Tbilisi has revoked visa-free entry for Iranians.  The ministry announced on July 2 that, effective the previous day, Iran’s citizens must obtain visas to enter Georgian territory. The change in policy comes after two delegations from the U.S. Treasury visited Georgia in the last few months to discuss escalating fears that Iran may be using its growing business links with Georgia to skip international sanctions.

Sources: RFE/RL, ENPI, Interfax

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Graduated in International Relations and Russian. Resident of Estonia, but a citizen of the world. Most interested in contributing to the progress and education of mankind--as the primary tool of achieving global unity.

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