KUALA LUMPUR: Ukraine has offered visa exemption to Malaysians, opening up another “big” path to Europe for locals.
With this, two of the continent's largest countries are opening their doors to Malaysia to promote closer ties and also tap the tourism ring-git.
Discussions with Russia on visa-free entry for Malaysians is entering the concluding stages. Russian and Ukraine nationals can visit Malaysia without visas for up to a month.
Ukrainian Ambassador Ihor Humennyi said he had followed up with Wisma Putra's consular division on the visa issue earlier this week.
He said Malaysia was favoured as the country was not in Ukraine's “potential illegal immigrant” list, which included Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Singapore is the only other country in the region not in the list.
“Malaysians also enjoy visa-free access to the European Union and this is testimony of the recognition given to your country. Ukraine is ready to abolish the visa requirement for Malaysia,'' he said.
About 500 to 600 Malaysians visit Ukraine, with 3,000 arrivals from Kiev, annually. Ukrainian officials expect the numbers to rise with visa-free access.
Humennyi said the embassy had already started easing the visa application process for Malaysians since last year.
“All you need to do is fill a form and pay the visa fee. There is no need to provide an invitation letter or show your flight itinerary,'' he said, adding that express visas were also issued at a certain fee.
The envoy said the recent Euro 2012 football championship jointly hosted by his country had served to bring Ukraine “closer to Malaysia”.
“We issued almost 400 visas to Malaysians who went and had a great time. It was heartening to receive many friendly e-mails from them upon their return,'' the envoy added.