Dutch government threatens to boycott Euro 2012
The Hague: Dutch government officials and the royal family said they would not attend Euro 2012 Football Championships in Ukraine if the condition of imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko does not improve, the outgoing Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal told local newspapers Wednesday.
"If no visible improvement occurs ... in particular, the treatment of the imprisoned former Prime Minister Tymoshenko, the government will refrain from attending European Championship games in Ukraine," Rosenthal said.
Dutch ministers and members of the royal family traditionally attend matches of the Dutch national team at major tournaments. However, a majority of the House of Commons feel the current situation in Ukraine merits no official representation.
The Netherlands are scheduled to play their group stage matches next month against Denmark, Germany and Portugal in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
A number of European leaders, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have stated they may boycott the tournament if the conditions of Tymoshenko do not improve.
Tymoshenko was the prime minister of Ukraine from January to September 2005, and again from December 2007 to March 2010. She was a candidate at the presidential elections of 2010, but lost to current President Viktor Yanukovych.
In October last year, Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in jail for abusing her power in a gas deal with Russia in 2009. The decision of the judge was slammed by the West and the European Union (EU).
Tymoshenko is currently being held prisoner in Kharkiv and has been on hunger strike since April 20 to protest being allegedly mistreated by prison officials and doctors.
Rosenthal said he would raise the issue of Tymoshenko and other prisoners in Ukraine at the next EU foreign ministers meeting May 14.
"Ukraine must now understand what to do," said Rosenthal.
"The treatment and procedure of Tymoshenko and other prisoners should meet international standards."
The mega event will be co-hosted by Ukraine and Poland.