Opinion: No guts no glory

POSTED: 06/5/12 11:57 AM

Here we go again. The European soccer championship is about to begin this Friday in the Ukraine and the Netherlands is hotly debating whether VIPs (Very Irritating People) should boycott the tournament because former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko is locked up in jail for abuse of power. She is the possible victim of ill-treatment and many countries consider the process against her as a political one.
On October 11 of last year Timoshenko was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. That, what? Almost eight months ago. And now the Dutch government wants to make a so-called stand by considering not attending any matches of the Dutch national team?
It is all so predictable and so pathetic. For eight months there may have been some weak forms of protest against the way Timoshenko is treated in her prison, but there were no firm measures against the Ukraine.
And now the government wants to play tough. We agree, it must be tough for Dutch politicians to forego free travel to a foreign country and to forego the VIP-treatment the organizations has in store for them. In St. Maarten this would not even be an issue.
Timoshenko herself does not want to hear about a boycott, according to VVD Euro-parliamentarian Hans van Baalen. Timoshenko wishes it to become one big party. That’s how it ought to be.
Foreign Affairs Minister Uri Rosenthal announced a possible boycott last month. And what do the Ukrainians have to do to avoid it? The situation with Timoshenko must “visibly improve.” Rosenthal did not say what exactly it is that he means by this, or what he thinks to achieve.
Later a spokesman for Rosenthal said that the minister was happy that Timoshenko, who suffers from a hernia, had been treated in a hospital by doctors of her choice and that she was able to receive visitors. It does not take much to satisfy a Dutch politician, something we ought to keep in mind just in case things go south with our budget.
The Dutch cabinet will waste serious time on the boycott question this Friday. And – of course! – The Netherlands does not have the guts to take a decision on its own strength. No siree, it does not work that way in The Hague. The cabinet will also consider what other European countries are going to do.
That’s how deep the country has sunk. It does not have an opinion of its own anymore. But now that the chairman of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, the German president Joachim Glauck an chancellor Angela Merkel have indicated that they will avoid the tournament in the Ukraine if the country does not improve its human rights record,
Well, we know where that one is going. But the Netherlands still has to make up its mind. We imagine that Rosenthal is busy doing a European head count before deciding what he actually thinks about the situation in the Ukraine.
In the meantime, Rosenthal has been discussing with European colleagues which other options there are to put pressure on the Ukrainian government.
We know, we know. Words are cheap, but meaningful action is hard to come by these days. The Dutch soccer team knows all about it: no guts, no glory.

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