Tannock: “Move England's Euro fixtures away from Ukraine”
23rd May 2012
England's football fixtures in the European Championship should be switched to venues in Poland in protest over the Ukraine government's deteriorating record of political persecution, a senior Conservative MEP urged today.
London MEP Charles Tannock, Conservative foreign affairs spokesman in the European Parliament, said it was important that the clearest and most direct message should be sent to Kiev that its actions were beyond the pale and would not be tolerated by the international community.
Ukraine is due to host the June championships jointly with Poland, but has attracted widespread condemnation for its imprisonment and physical mistreatment of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, as well as the targeting of other political opponents of the government.
Senior EU political figures including the President of the European Commission Jose Manual Barroso and High Representative Baroness Catherine Ashton have said they will boycott the Ukraine leg of the championship.
Pressure has mounted on Kiev in recent days after it emerged that Mrs Tymoshenko may now face a murder charge and that the country's chief prosecutor has been given direct political orders to pursue the former premier and other government opponents.
England are due to play their three group matches in the former soviet state - including a fixture against the hosts.
Dr Tannock said:
"In my opinion England should be seeking to play in Poland instead of a country whose government is behaving in a way that is insupportable by anyone with a care for human rights and open democracy.
"I believe the stance of politicians who are boycotting Ukraine will have an effect. If politicians wish to attend their countries' matches there they should go as private citizens. That will send a message to Kiev: that we want them to grow into a modern European state and ultimately to join the EU - but that will require much higher standards of political behaviour than we have seen of late."