Norway rejects calls for Ukraine Euro boycott

Norwegian foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre has advised against a boycott for Norwegians seeking to visit this summer's European Football Championship in Ukraine, while expressing concern over political developments in the country.

Gahr Støre issued a comment after statements by German Prime Minister Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, stating that they will not be visiting Ukraine during the prestigious football tournament, which is being co-hosted with Poland.

Merkel and Barroso explained their decision as a reaction to the treatment of the imprisoned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.
In response to a parliamentary question on Wednesday morning the minister stated that he does not share Merkel and Barroso's view.
"A boycott of sports events is not a line Norway has followed before. I would not immediately think that it is an appropriate instrument here," the minister said.
Ine Marie Eriksen, a member of the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, slammed the government for being silent about reported human rights violations in Ukraine. A charge rejected by the Foreign Minister.
"It's not set in Norway. We have signed up to the numerous protests," he stressed, stating that he is worried about developments in Ukraine concerning human rights and the rule of law.
Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years imprisonment last October in what much of the international community has described as a "political" trial. The former prime minister is currently on hunger strike after having allegedly suffered ill-treatment in prison.
In a further turn of events the president of the Spanish football federation, Angel Maria Villar, has reportedly made an offer to stage Euro 2012 in place of Ukraine. UEFA has responded to the offer by saying that it is unrealistic to shift location less than 40 days before the start of the tournament.

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