Friday, December 17, 2004

Khreshchatyk, Kyiv City Council's paper, isn't something I ever read, but it was lying on the couch next to me today, so I did skim the headlines.

Turns out it is harder than ever for Ukrainians to get a Schengen visa now, and the Austrian Embassy is being the toughest of all.

Representatives of two travel agencies are quoted in the piece on tourist business (Increase in Incoming Tourists On the Waves of Our Revolution, by Olena Sedyk, Khreshchatyk, #188 (2591), Dec.17, 2004):

  • Iryna Ushchapovska of Bekas Tour Firm says "those who decided not to cancel their trips abroad have found themselves in the "refuseniks" category, against their will. Austria has become completely inaccessible. Our clients - even those who had traveled all over the world - unexpectedly found visa rejection stamps in their passports. I myself have just returned from the republic in the Alps and know that Austrians sympathize with our cause and are wishing us victory. But until the political situation stabilizes, they do not want to see us in their country. They are afraid we'd be seeking political asylum."
  • Tetyana Shchupak of Voyage-Kyiv says they have "refused to work with the Austrian Embassy because they're being so finicky. But our tourists have no problems getting to Spain and Andorra, and these aren't the only countries one can go to."

I'm not sure how how true or how representative this is - but I'm not surprised. It's never been easy to get a U.S. or Western European visa, and the fact that our friends have been offered asylum in France must be an exception. I'm happy Turkey isn't part of the EU and can afford to be different: it takes $20 and five minutes to get a two-month, multiple-entry Turkish visa at the Istanbul airport.

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