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German minister says will boycott Ukraine Euro 2012

  • 7 May 2012
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BERLIN (AFP)
Dirk Niebel

Germany's development minister became the country's first member of government to announce a boycott of the Euro 2012 championships in Ukraine over human rights concerns, in an interview Monday.

Dirk Niebel told Tuesday's edition of Die Welt he wanted to send a "political message", adding: "That is why I am skipping my planned visit to a game by the German national team in Ukraine."

He said that Kiev had expressed a will to move closer to European values and standards and must now show "how seriously it takes these commitments", according to a pre-released copy of the interview.

The announcement came during a visit to Berlin by the daughter of Ukraine's jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko for meetings with German political officials in a bid to raise the issue of her mother's plight.

Germany has been at the forefront of international criticism of Kiev's treatment of Tymoshenko who was jailed for seven years in October on charges that European Union leaders view as politically motivated.

The 2004 Orange Revolution leader, who has complained of debilitating back pain since her jailing, also launched a hunger strike on April 20 over an alleged beating in prison.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a newspaper last week she would decide whether to attend the Euro football games in Ukraine at the last minute, while Austria has already announced a boycott.

And the European Union has said all its commissioners will skip next month's Euro 2012 football events in the country.

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