EU Ministers Mull Euro 2012 Boycott Of Ukraine

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- European Union foreign ministers were debating Monday a boycott of this year's European football championship matches played in Ukraine to protest alleged abuse of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton

"We've been very consistent in sending messages to Ukraine about the importance of justice being done and seen to be done," EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said.

When Tymoshenko launched a hunger strike last month after saying she was beaten by prison officials, several European leaders vowed to shun Ukraine during Euro 2012 in protest.

She said Poland, co-host of the tournament, would brief the ministers on the situation.

Ukraine is not a member of the EU, whereas Poland is.

Officials said no formal decision on the move was expected at the meeting on Monday.

Instead, the 27 ministers were expected to agree to jointly decide on any future moves regarding Ukraine, said a senior EU official who could not be named understanding rules.

"It would be more of an undertaking that they won't make any individual decisions (on the boycott) that would give the impression of lack of coordination," he said.

Some participants played down the political significance of a possible boycott of the tournament.

"I fail to see that attendance or nonattendance of football games is an instrument of European policy," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said as he arrived for the meeting.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle