Monday, 30 April 2012

Ukraine Considers German Threat Euro 2012 Boycott Cold War Method

The Ukrainian Ministry of External Affairs has reacted angrily to media reports that indicated that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is initiating a boycott of the European Soccer Championship, Euro 2012.  The Ministry likened the boycott to "Cold War" methods, which use sport as a hostage.

Media reports in "Der Spiegel" yesterday indicated that German Chancellor Angela Merkel recommended to her Ministers not to visit the Ukraine during the Euro 2012 championship.  The boycott is to protest the continued incarceration and alleged human rights abuses against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Communications Director, Oleg Woloschin, for the External Affairs Ministry said that the couldn't imagine that Germany's public figures would apply methods of the Cold War and attempting to use sport as a hostage for politics.

"The External Affairs Ministry hopes that the information distributed by German media, in which Chancellor Angela Merkel, apparently called for a political boycott of Euro 2012, related to the imprisonment of ex Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, turn out to be false, Woloshin said.

While most Western nations have voiced their displeasure with the Ukrainian government over the handling and imprisonment of the former Prime Minister, Germany has been the most vocal.  Yesterday FC Bayern President, Uli Hoeness, called for players of the German national side to speak out on the issue.

Bayern boss Uli Hoeness said that he trusts the players to be smart enough to have an opinion on the issue.  He said he would have respect for every player that takes a stand on this issue.   One of Bayern's players, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (Анатолій Тимощук) will be appearing as part of the Ukrainian team.

Hoeness has also called on the President of UEFA, Michel Platini, to take a tough stand against the regime in the Ukraine.

"I sincerely hope that Mr. Platini, clearly voices his opinion in the right places.

Newly elected German President, Joachim Gauck, a human rights advocate, has cancelled a trip to EURO 2012 to protest the incarceration conditions of Yulia Tymoshenko.

A Ukraine Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday that at least five EU heads of state would not be attending a  May 11-12 Yalta summit meeting of Central and Eastern European leaders.  The countries in question are the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Italy and Slovenia.  The Ministry downplayed that this had anything to do with the imprisonment of Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko is serving a seven year sentence of abuse of power charges, based on an energy deal with Russia.  Western countries have condemned the charges and threatened to freeze cooperation with the Ukraine.  Tymoshenko has been on hunger strike for the last ten days to protest alleged abuse in Kharkiv prison.  Kharkiv is one of the venues during EURO 2012, the European Soccer championship, hosted by Poland and the Ukraine.

The Ukraine is a signatory of the "European Convention of Human Rights," and as such is expected to clear up the situation of prisoners within the letter of the law. 

Euro 2012 will kick off on the 8th of June and run through to July 1st.  The Ukraine and Poland are co-hosts of the tournament, only second to the World Cup. 

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