Ukraine has been brought to the spotlight of international attention due to varying events in course of last week.
On April 27th, several explosions hit the eastern town of Dnipropetrovsk, injuring 30 people. At first, this raised concerns about the safety of football supporters, who are to visit the country during the European Championship taking place from 8 June onwards. Ukraine was quick to guarantee the safety of visitors to the Union des Associations Européennes de Football (UEFA). However, this came to late to avert a discussion on the situation in Ukraine.
Different media are reporting that Ukrainian messages about the scale and accompanying victims are obscured. These accounts have quickly been discarded by authorities.
On this website, it was already reported earlier, that the situation of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in jail is worsening. On top of that, she started a hunger strike last week. Now Ukraine is in the spotlights again, European authorities are reassessing the rapprochement between the EU and the country, which will co-host the EC 2012. On May 1st, Hillary Clinton said the U.S. continues “to call for her release, the release of other members of her former government and the restoration of their full civil and political rights”.
A summit of the presidents of Central European countries due in Yalta, Ukraine, on 11-12 May is also influenced by the uproar. The presidents of Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Austria, Italy and probably also Estonia have decided to boycott the conference. This might be seen as a prelude to a possible EU boycott at political level against the EC 2012 football tournament that Ukraine is hosting, together with neighbouring Poland. EU commissioner, Vivianne Reding, was the first to boycott the Ukraine football matches. The Dutch caretaker cabinet has already decided to boycott them as well, if the situation of Tymoshenko does not improve.
Germany’s Angela Merkel is still considering such actions, but in doing so has already been accused of 'Cold War Tactics' by Ukraine. Within the EU, discussions have arisen on the hypocrisy of such measures, since the European Championship was already planned a long time ago and the EU could have taken earlier steps in relation to the situation of Tymoshenko.
Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
U.S. Department of State
Image of Euro 2012 stadium
Flickr by Aleksandr Osipov