Marek Siwiec MEP on Poland & Europe

German policy has focused on EURO 2012. You can hear the call for boycott. More and more politicians declare that they will not participate in the Ukrainian part of the tournament. In addition, they encourage UEFA to withdraw the matches from Ukraine and move them e.g. to Poland, Germany or Austria. I warn politicians, especially those from Poland, not to join this boycott.

Football is an opportunity to engage in politics. During matches very often heads of states sit next to each other, and as they sit, they need something to talk about. President Yanukovych has lost this opportunity. However, between non-attendance and boycott there is a long way. In Poland we need to understand (and I repeated it many times) that the football championship for Ukrainians is a national question – a source of pride, regardless of political views. Ukrainians deserve to have this tournament in their country in an atmosphere of festivity, in spite of all. Moreover, let’s not forget that without their operability Poland would not host championship for many years.

When I hear that Erika Steinbach calls for the withdrawal of the EURO 2012 in Ukraine, I feel angry. Neither she, nor smaller German politicians should bias us against Ukrainians. I expect that the Polish Prime Minister will firmly speak out on this matter. Besides, as a whole political class, just as we act together in defence of Yulia Tymoshenko, in this case we should separate sport from politics. If there was somebody in Poland who would like to take this opportunity to rob something from Ukrainians, I warn – the political costs in the mutual relations will be long lasting and serious. Regardless of who is in power at the Dnieper.

PS By the way, European dignitaries have proven that they have no idea what this whole football-politics is about. Commissioner on Justice Viviane Reding will not come to Warsaw for the opening match and Barroso will not attend the Ukrainian part of the championship. He will watch it on television.

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