21st Mar 2018

Ukraine tells Reding to be less 'emotional' on Euro2012

Ukraine's EU ambassador has told justice commissioner Vivianne Reding that she should be less "emotional" in a riposte to her Euro2012 boycott.

The diplomat, Konstiantin Yelisieiev, in a letter dated 2 May - and seen by EUobserver - said her decision is "based rather on emotions surrounding some criminal cases in Ukraine, than on a sober reflection of their legal substance."

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  • 'If the European External Action Service had ever drafted a full and comprehensive EU strategy toward Russia, they would come running to us to sign this treaty' (Photo: wikipedia)

He noted that her views come lock, stock and barrel from "Ukraine's domestic political opposition" and that things would "appear to [her] in different colours" if she came to Kiev to see "them with [her] own eyes."

Yelisieiev added that Euro2012 should be a "celebration of good will" among ordinary people instead of "making political stands."

"Millions of Ukrainians put their heart into making this celebration happen ... they deserve the highest recognition, not the cold shoulder. Shunning them politically, as you suggested, would be unfair and disproportionate."

Reding last week in an open letter to the European football association, Uefa, said she will not go to games in Ukraine in June and July because of "partial justice" in the case of Yulia Tymoshenko.

Her boycott was the first in a list which now includes two German ministers, Austria, Belgium and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Tymoshenko was jailed last year for signing a cripplingly expensive gas supply contract with Russia while prime minister. She is currently in the 14th day of a hunger strike after an alleged beating by prison guards.

Poland, which is co-hosting Euro2012 with Ukraine, has also criticised the boycotteers.

Its president, Bronislaw Komorowski, said on national TV on Wednesday the move is based on "other calculations" than human rights - an allusion to Polish concerns that Germany is trying to harm EU-Ukraine integration because of its close ties to Russia.

The football snub is a bad omen for prospects of the EU signing a political and trade association treaty with Ukraine early next year.

Amid expectations that even if it is signed, EU countries will not ratify it before 2016, Ukraine is currently preparing legal measures for "provisional application" of the trade chapter.

It sees the treaty as protection of its recently-won sovereignty from Russia - one clause in the political section envisages emergency EU-Ukraine talks if there is a threat to its territorial integrity.

It has long complained that, unlike Poland, EU institutions do not understand the hard realities of post-Cold-War geopolitics. "If the European External Action Service had ever drafted a full and comprehensive EU strategy toward Russia, they would come running to us to sign this treaty," a Ukrainian contact said.

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