The Croatian President Ivo Josipovic last week joined European leaders who will not attend a Yalta summit in mid-May. The Croatian president’s office said that one of the reasons for the decision is suspected human rights violations in Ukraine. The news comes after a foreign ministry spokesman in Ukraine said on April 30, that the presidents of Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Slovenia has informed Kiev that they will not attend the Yalta meeting of Central and Eastern European leaders on May 11-12.
The boycott of the Yalta meeting reflects mounting concern over the hunger striking opposition leader and the treatment of her in jail. Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced last fall to seven years imprisonment for abusing power while she was in office. She has denied the allegations.
At the end of April the German president, Joachim Gauck, confirmed that he will not travel to Ukraine to attend the meeting of Central European presidents because of concerns over former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s treatment, reported New York Times, adding that “the Russian Foreign Ministry, in an unusual move, called on the Ukrainian authorities to ’demonstrate humanity’ toward her”.
The Yalta meeting is by some seen as a prelude to a possible boycott of the 8 June-1 July Euro 2012 football tournament that Ukraine is hosting, together with neighbouring Poland.
Germany was the first country to call the games in question: “moving the games from Ukraine to Poland, Austria or Germany would be the correct political signal to the undemocratic government in Kyiv,” said Erika Steinbach, human rights spokesperson for Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in German Parliament. On May 2, Austria and Belgium announced that they will boycott the Euro 2012 matches which are to be played in Ukraine, in a protest against the mistreatment of the former prime minister Yulia Timoshenko, reported footballzz.com. At the end of last week Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told Swedish media that he will not attend the games in Ukraine as “political developments in Ukraine have become a hindrance”. In addition Androulla Vassiliou, European Commission for Sport stated that he will not travel to Ukraine.
A spokeswoman for EU commission chief Barroso told press on April 30, that he “has no intention at this point in time of going to Ukraine or participating in events in Ukraine” when asked if he will attend the Euro2012 soccer games in June and July despite allegations of serious human rights abuses.
“We are increasing pressure on President Yanukovich of Ukraine. He must unblock the European future of his country,” wrote Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister, yesterday on Twitter. When asked by New York Times if he would join the boycott Mr. Bildt said of Mr. Yanukovich: “It is he who is blocking.”
The official Kyiv has accused Western politicians of employing “cold war tactics”.
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