A boycott of the European football championships in Ukraine because of the dispute over the treatment of opposition leader Yulia Tymoschenko would be ‘a serious error’ Ukraine’s ambassador to the Netherlands is quoted as saying in an interview with news agency ANP.
Dutch ministers and members of the royal family will boycott the forthcoming European football championships in Ukraine unless the situation surrounding the jailed former prime minister improves, Dutch foreign minister Uri Rosenthal said last week.
Tymoschenko, sentenced to seven years in jail for abuse of office and tax evasion, has accused the authorities of physical abuse and is currently on hunger strike.
Ambassador Olexander Horin told ANP ‘a boycott is a measure used during the Cold War’.
‘We are now partners. It would not be good to use such measures again,’ he said.
In addition, a boycott would not be an appropriate response to the Tymoschenko affair, he said. The case is complicated and involving the European football championships would be unfair to the organisers, football supporters and players, the ambassador is quoted as saying.
The European championships are being jointly staged by Ukraine and Poland.
Both EU Commission president José Manuel Barroso and justice commissioner Viviane Reding are boycotting the Ukraine matches and German chancellor Angela Merkel is also considering doing so, the BBC reported last week.
The Dutch group B campaign kicks off against Denmark on June 9, followed by Germany on June 13. The tournament runs from 8 June to 1 July.