Ukraine calls Euro 2012 boycott threat 'artificial'
(KIEV) - Ukraine on Monday called a possible boycott by EU leaders of the Euro 2012 football games it hosts next month "artificial manipulation" that showed disrespect for sport.
"Sport is sport and politics is politics. All of this is nothing but artificial manipulation," foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Voloshyn told AFP.
He stressed that Ukraine had not yet formally extended invitations to any EU leaders and argued that "the boycott would touch not the Ukrainian authorities but the football championship".
European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding have both said they will miss the games Ukraine co-hosts with Poland starting on June 8.
Reding in particular linked her decision to Ukraine's jailing and subsequent treatment of the fasting opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.
German media said Chancellor Angela Merkel was also planning to order her ministers not to attend matches played in Ukraine because of Tymoshenko's case.
The foreign ministry spokesman called any boycott by Merkel a mistake.
"If Chancellor Merkel and other German politicians fail to come to Kharkiv where their team is playing, she will be boycotting not (President Viktor) Yanukovych but her own national team," Voloshyn said.
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