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