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Sir Humphrey Rides Again (With Catherine Ashton)

It sounds (and feels) as if EU foreign policy supremo Catherine Ashton has hired Sir Humphrey Appleby (of "Yes, Minister" fame).

This is what a Ukrainian journalist heard this morning in Luxembourg after a high-level EU-Ukraine meeting, in response to the straightforward
question: "Has Ukraine received from the EU a 'road map' with dates to visa-free travel?"

"We've agreed to move to what we describe as the fully operational phase of the visa dialogue. And that means it will be based on an action plan that will take us towards visa liberalization. This is a really important step because what we'll be developing will be fully comprehensive in nature. And it will have within it the benchmarks that are needed to take us through, ultimately, to the visa liberalization. So, it's a very significant step. It probably feels and sounds more bureaucratic than actually it really is. Because this is important. The European Union is moving in that direction, and I know this is an ambition of Ukraine. So I hope you'll recognize that this is an important moment as we build toward the summit as well, where we will hopefully be able to show and demonstrate our commitment."

Translation (for the uninitiated): "Maybe later."

-- Ahto Lobjakas

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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