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Ukraine Moves Step Closer To Visa-Free Travel In EU

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

Negotiators for the European Parliament and European Union member states have reached a deal to allow Ukrainian citizens to enter Schengen zone countries without a visa.

Ukrainian citizens who have biometric passports will be able to enter for up to 90 days during any 180-day period, the parliament said in a statement on March 1. The entry is valid for business trips, tourism, or family stays.

Ukrainians have eagerly awaited the advent of visa-free travel after being stuck in a conflict with Russia-backed separatists in the east for three years. They see the visa deal as a symbol of closer ties to the EU.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Twitter hailed the move as a "formal, but important step on the road."

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said earlier this month that visa liberalization between the EU and Ukraine is expected to come into force this summer.

The deal still has to be endorsed by parliament as a whole and the EU states.

The 26 Schengen area countries are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Based on reporting by dpa, Interfax, and TASS

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