38% of Ukrainians consider themselves Europeans – poll


Over a third of Ukrainians emphasize the importance of visa-free regime for the population of the country. On the other hand, only 38% of Ukrainians consider themselves Europeans. It is just 3% more than in 2013. Only 10% of the respondents from the western regions, and 7% from the eastern part of Ukraine are going to get a biometric passport. These poll results were presented by Iryna Bekeshkina, Director of the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, during a press briefing at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center. A nationwide survey on the attitude of the population to the visa-free regime was held by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Razumkov Center on June 9-13.

The survey results show significant regional and age differences among the population regarding visa-free travel. “The closer to the West, the higher the percentage of people who consider visa-free regime to be important”, – said Ms. Irina. In the west, 11% of the respondents have biometric passports. In the east – only 2.5%. The number of biometric passports is higher among younger respondents. Iryna Bekeshkina emphasized that a significant part of the population does not intend to have any foreign passports at all. The number of people who received a regular passport grew only by 4% compared to 2013. “For me it is an indicator that Ukraine is still far from becoming a European country”, – said director of the Democratic Initiatives Foundation.

60% of the respondents said that in order for them to consider themselves Europeans they needed a certain level of material well-being. “There are neither age nor regional differences here”, – Mrs. Iryna said. Hlib Vyshlinskyi, Executive Director of the Centre for Economic Strategy, said that visa-free regime should improve the overall economic situation in the country. “This will facilitate all forms of economic cooperation and encourage new investments in the country,” he stressed.

Aliona Hetmanchuk, Director of the Institute of World Policy, said that according to the poll, 36% of Ukrainians will consider themselves Europeans when the rule of law is established in the country. Serhii Sydorenko, editor-in-chief of the Internet-edition “Europeiska Pravda”, noted that the possibility of suspension of visa-free regime will ensure the further implementation of reforms, in particular judicial and anti-corruption ones. “I do not even imagine theoretically a possibility that Poroshenko, or other government leaders, by their actions in the country could cause cancellation of visa-free regime. This would be a political suicide for them. Therefore, I do not even assume that our leaders will go for such a rollback of reforms, which will activate the reverse of the visa-free regime “, – said Serhii Sydorenko.

A total of 14% got themselves familiar with the rights of entry and stay in the Schengen area. Aliona Hetmanchuk noted that it is necessary to radically change the state communication strategy. “Instead of focusing on what are the requirements of the EU, we need to start talking about what the agreement with the EU gives us,” Mrs. Hetmanchuk underlined.

“It is necessary to screen the readiness of the country on the subject of having the right to be a candidate for EU membership”, – said Aliona Hetmanchuk. She stressed that this would help to establish a constructive dialogue with European countries, one which would not rise negative emotions regarding Ukraine’s entrance into the EU.