Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has welcomed the pending introduction of visa-free travel by Ukrainians to the European Union as "a final 'goodbye' to the Russian Empire."
Poroshenko said on June 10 in Kyiv that he believes Ukraine will become a member of both NATO and the EU, and that "nothing, nobody will ever stop us."
"The words 'back in the U.S.S.R.' will be heard only listening to The Beatles," Poroshenko said. "We will never return to the Soviet Union because we, a proud and free democratic nation, return to the family of European nations."
Poroshenko's remarks came at a ceremony in which he launched a countdown clock for the last 12 hours before the visa-free regime is due to come into effect on June 11.
He said the "last sound of the countdown" will mark "the fall of not the concrete Berlin Wall, but the paper curtain that has been separating Ukrainians from the European Family for years."
Hugues Mingarell , head of the EU delegation to Ukraine, said at the ceremony that Ukrainians will be able "to travel to 33 countries of West Europe without any visa requirements."
Mingarelli said the visa-free regime was "just the first step" toward "intensifying relations" between the EU and Ukraine.