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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » May 4, 2012
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Poland slams calls for Ukraine Euro 2012 boycott
May 4, 2012   
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PM Donald Tusk
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk criticized Thursday growing calls to boycott Euro 2012 co-host Ukraine during the pending football championship over the country's treatment of jailed ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko, the main political rival of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, is in prison after being convicted, of abuse of power a PM, last October in a case said to be politically motivated. She has been on hunger strike after saying she had been beaten by prison guards.

Led by German chancellor Angela Merkel, leaders of several EU countries have called off scheduled visits to Ukraine during the Euro 2012, a tournament co-hosted by Poland that starts on June 8, to protest against Tymoshenko case.

Tusk said Poland was sympathetic to concerns about the condition of Tymoshenko, who has complained of ill-treatment while serving a seven-year prison sentence but suggested Tymoshenko, who had helped organize the tournament while in office, would herself be reluctant to see years of preparations wasted by a European boycott.

"I think the calls for a boycott are inappropriate. I understand the politicians who sympathize with Yulia Tymoshenko, but nothing stands in their way to express this sympathy in a clear way during the championships," Tusk told a press conference.

On Wednesday, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski also warned against a Western boycott of Ukraine during Euro2012, saying this would hamper its European ambitions and force the former Soviet republic back into the arms of Russia.

"The Euro is not the property of this or that politician. It is a chance for the nation, the Ukrainian country, to present itself from the best side," Komorowski told TVP1 – Polish public TV channel.

Meanwhile, Polish main opposition Law and Justice (PiS) leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has also called for a boycott of Euro 2012 matches in Ukraine as well as for further pressure on the Ukrainian authorities and suggested that games should be moved from Ukraine.

“In view of the situation of imprisoned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, the Law and Justice party advocates a boycott of the European football championship games taking place in Ukraine, to put further pressure on the Ukrainian government,” Kaczynski said in a statement released on Thursday.

He said that the Ukrainian government's actions with respect to the opposition, particularly Tymoshenko, "should meet a strong reaction from Polish and European politicians."

PM Tusk and major political parties have, however, sharply criticised the call. Tusk said Kaczynski's call to boycott Ukrainian matches was a dismal start of the games. "It is in Poland's undisputed interest to hold the games in Poland and Ukraine without a hitch and to prevent politics from ruining the great effort" made when organising the games, Tusk said.

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