Turkey, Ukraine begin passport-free travel

A deal between Turkey and Ukraine allowing their citizens to travel to each other’s country without passports entered into force early Thursday, said Andrii Sybiha, Kiev’s ambassador in Ankara.

“Both countries will benefit from this agreement,” Sybiha told reporters at Ankara’s Esenboga Airport after Ukrainian citizens for the first time entered the country by showing only their national ID cards.

He added: “Last year, more than one million tourists came from Ukraine to Turkey. More than 200,000 Turkish tourists travelled to Ukraine.

“Thanks to this agreement, we expect a 30 percent increase in these numbers this year.”

Olga Vdovenko, a Ukranian reporter, said she had no problem using her ID card at the passport control gate.

“I’m happy to be part of the first group that came to Turkey with an identity card,” Vdovenko told reporters.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Groysman agreed on March 14 to allow their citizens to travel to each other’s country without passports.

Under the deal, citizens of both countries will only need to present their national ID cards for stays of up to 90 days. Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said that one million Ukrainian citizens visited Turkey each year, and added that an expected increase in reciprocal travel would be catered to with new flight opportunities.

The Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree to allow visa-free access to the port of Vladivostok, located in Russia’s far eastern region in April.