Kyiv threatens Germany with economic consequences | News | DW | 04.05.2012
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Kyiv threatens Germany with economic consequences

Ukraine has threatened to retaliate if Germany fails to ratify an EU association pact. The comment is the latest volley in a war of words set off by the treatment of the country's jailed former prime minister.

Ukraine has threatened Germany with economic consequences if it fails to ratify a treaty that would move it closer to Europe.

A leading member of President Victor Yanukovych's political party told the news website Spiegel Online that failure to approve the European Union association agreement with Ukraine would be bad for German businesses.

“Without the treaty, German access to the Ukrainian market will be limited,” Leonid Kozhara, member of parliament and the deputy chairman of the Party of Regions said.

He was responding to a statement by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle who said that ratifying the treaty was out of the question in the absence of the rule of law in Ukraine.

Kyiv has been facing a hail of criticism over its treatment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year jail term after a court convicted her of abuse of power last October. She also faces a second trial on tax-evasion charges.

Former premier on hunger strike

There are growing concerns about the health of the politician, who began a hunger strike two weeks ago after she was allegedly beaten by wardens who forcibly moved her from her prison cell to a hospital. Photos released to media organizations appear to show bruising on her arms and stomach. Prior to that, the 51-year-old hero of Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution had been complaining of severe back pain.

Germany has repeatedly called on the Ukrainian authorities to allow her to travel to Berlin for treatment at the renowned Charite clinic. Instead, Karl Marx Einhäupl of Charite said on Friday that Ukraine had agreed for her to be treated by a German doctor at a hospital in the eastern city fo Kharkiv.

"This will be a mutual step that helps resolve the issue," Einhäupl said in a joint statement from Charite and the Ukrainian health ministry.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko shows what she claims is an injury in the Kachanivska prison in Kharkiv, in this undated handout picture received by Reuters on April 27, 2012.

Undated photos of Tymoshenko were recently published apparently showing brusies sustained in jail

Since the start of her hunger strike several high-level German and European politicians have said they would not attend football matches played in Ukraine during the upcoming European championship, which it is co-hosting with Poland.

On Thursday, the European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso said he didn't intend to attend games in Ukraine, and it appears that few if any of the commissioners would either.

"During the discussion, it became clear that it is a position that all shared," a spokesman for the EU Commission told reporters.

German President Joachim Gauck is one of several European heads of state who have cancelled plans to attend a conference in Yalta this month.

German group-stage games in Ukraine

There has also been speculation in the German media that Chancellor Angela Merkel will stay away from Euro 2012 football matches in Ukraine. This would mean the chancellor, who is known to be a fan of the national team, would not be able to attend any of Germany's games at least until the knockout stages. All of Germany's group games are to be played in Ukraine.

The final is scheduled for July 1 in the Ukrainian capital's Olympic Stadium.

Despite the threat of a growing number of politicians staying home or only attending games in Poland, there has been no talk of any soccer teams boycotting the tournament.

pfd/msh (DAPD, AFP)