Poland, Ukraine 'ready' for Euro 2012
Poland and Ukraine have completed preparations to co-host the Euro 2012 European Football Championship, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said at a joint press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart, Mykola Azarov.
The Warsaw Voice quoted Azarov as saying that despite all of the difficulties linked to the financial and economic crisis, the neighbouring countries had managed to mobilise all of their potential and had were prepared for the 8 June-1 July championship.
Tusk, speaking at a news conference with Azarov in Warsaw yesterday (22 March), admitted that not all the ambitions had been realised as planned, but that this "should not have effect on the course of the championship".
On a separate occasion, Union of European Football Associations President Michel Platini called "extraordinary" the progress made by Ukraine in preparing the football cup with 95% of modernisation plans implemented.
"Difficult births often lead to beautiful babies," Platini was quoted as saying.
With 77 days remaining before the start of the Euro 2012, the two countries are behind in the construction of roads and freeways, and the modernisation of railways.
The two countries were selected to co-host the championship in 2007. Since then, on many occasions, critics denounced delays in preparations and mushrooming costs.
Ukraine in particular has put a lot of ambition into the project, with its expected success being seen by Kyiv as the "moral application" for the country's EU membership.
However, EU-Ukraine relations are rocky largely due to the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko for abuse of power. Brussels has called the sentence "politically motivated".
Ukraine failed in December to meet its goal of initialling an Association Agreement with the Union, following five years of negotiations of what diplomats called the most complex and advanced such agreement in history.
The EU is also looking closely at preparations for the parliamentary elections in Ukraine due in October.
The EU's concerns were reiterated by Tusk during Azarov's visit to Warsaw. The Kyiv Post reported that Tusk expressed concern about the situation with Tymoshenko and said that the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Ukraine are very important for the country's image.
In Kyiv, some Some 100 well-known Ukrainian public figures have urged Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich to pardon Tymoshenko.