EU chief Barroso to snub Euro 2012 in Ukraine
BRUSSELS (AP) — The chief of the European Union's head office says he will not go to Ukraine during the European soccer championships in June unless there is a swift improvement in the human rights situation there.
EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and other European leaders piled the pressure Monday on the leadership in Kiev in support of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Barroso's announcement followed that of EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, who is skipping the ceremonial Euro 2012 opening on June 8.
"It is clear that as things stand now, the president has no intention of going to Ukraine," Barroso's spokeswoman said.
The tournament, more important to Europe than the Olympic soccer tournament, 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 is a fierce rival of Tymoshenko but government officials have denied any claims of bias in the case.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's environment minister has urged top European government officials to boycott the Euro 2012 matches. Also, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that Merkel will abstain from attending any matches and urge her Cabinet members to do so as well unless Tymoshenko is freed to undergo medical treatment abroad.