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EU chief Barroso to snub Euro 2012 in Ukraine

 Cheerleaders dressed in Ukrainian national colors dance as Polish and Ukrainian celebrities play a friendly soccer match at the National Stadium in W...
 Cheerleaders dressed in Ukrainian national colors dance as Polish and Ukrainian celebrities play a friendly soccer match at the National Stadium in W...
 Polish and Ukrainian celebrities play a friendly soccer match at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, April 29, 2012. The game was the las...
 Members of the Ukrainian team react after Polish and Ukrainian celebrities played a friendly soccer match at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, ...

Poland Ukraine Soccer Stadium

Cheerleaders dressed in Ukrainian national colors dance as Polish and Ukrainian celebrities play a friendly soccer match at the National Stadium in W...

Poland Ukraine Soccer Stadium

Cheerleaders dressed in Ukrainian national colors dance as Polish and Ukrainian celebrities play a friendly soccer match at the National Stadium in W...

Poland Ukraine Soccer Stadium

Polish and Ukrainian celebrities play a friendly soccer match at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, April 29, 2012. The game was the las...

Poland Ukraine Soccer Stadium

Members of the Ukrainian team react after Polish and Ukrainian celebrities played a friendly soccer match at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, ...

The chief of the European Union's head office will not go to Ukraine during the European soccer championships in June unless there is a swift improvement in the human rights situation there.
Several other top officials in Europe joined EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Monday in piling the pressure on the leadership in Kiev in support of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Barroso announced he will follow the lead of EU's Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding who also said she would skip the ceremonial Euro2012 opening on June 8.
The tournament, Europe's most important soccer championship for national teams, is being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine from June 8 until July 1.
Activists have called for protests against Ukraine where Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year jail sentence in a case the West has called politically motivated. Ukraine's president, a fierce rival of Tymoshenko's, denies the charges of bias.
"It is clear that as things stand now, the president has no intention of going to Ukraine or indeed participate in events in Ukraine," Barroso's spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Environment Minister over the weekend openly called on top European government officials to boycott the matches. Also, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported Sunday that Merkel will abstain from attending any matches and urge her cabinet members to stick to that policy unless Tymoshenko is freed to undergo treatment abroad.
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Voloshin was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that he "would like to think that this is simply a newspaper canard."
"I would not like to think that the statesmen of Germany are capable of reanimating the methods of the Cold War and try to make sport a hostage to politics."
But the protests kept coming on Monday. Czech President Vaclav Klaus canceled his visit to attend a summit of Central European Presidents May 11-12 in Ukraine because of Tymoshenko's treatment, Klaus spokesman Radim Ochvat said.
Ochvat said it is premature to comment if Klaus is planning to also boycott Euro 2012 football tournament co-host by Poland and Ukraine.
Denmark's Sports Minister Uffe Elbaek said he also was following the situation and "continues to have a dialogue with my European colleagues" on what course of action to take.
Germany has been leading the European Union's critical stance on Ukraine over the Tymoshenko case. The government is offering to treat her in Berlin, but Kiev has rejected the offer. Tymoshenko refuses to be treated in Ukraine.
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Juergen Baetz in Berlin, Jim Heintz in Moscow and Karel Janicek in Prague contributed to this story.


Updated : 2021-06-14 17:20 GMT+08:00