Soccer-Poland and Ukraine pledge to get Euro plans back on track
Zoran Milosavljevic, Reuters
The FA presidents of Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland and Ukraine promised to get preparations for the tournament back on track on Wednesday after acknowledging they had fallen behind.
The two hosts pledged to UEFA's executive committee in Zagreb that with political stability restored in both eastern European countries following elections last year, there was no danger of them failing to stage the event in four years time.
"The situation is very clear now and we have new authorities which are determined to fulfil all obligations," Michal Listkiewicz, president of the Polish FA, told Reuters after addressing executive committee members.
"UEFA are aware, as we are, that it will not be possible to complete some of the stadiums by the mid-2010 deadline as planned but there is no reason to panic and we have asked the soccer body to extend the deadline by six to eight months.
"The situation has improved in the last few months and there is no danger of not meeting all the requirements on time."
UEFA President Michel Platini warned Listkiewicz and his Ukraine counterpart Grigoriy Surkis, himself a member of the UEFA executive, to speed up preparations although he stopped short of saying the two countries risked losing the tournament.
Both countries need to build new roads, hotels and stadiums and Surkis acknowledged it was a mammoth task.
"It's like building an entirely new house in our circumstances whereas Switzerland and Austria, for example, only needed to adapt their present capacities for the Euro 2008 finals."
"Political stability is crucial and it's now showing in both countries, which gives us a great opportunity to catch up."
Last year's election in Ukraine produced a pro-Western government with a slim majority after political instability followed president Viktor Yushchenko's 2004 rise to power resting on pledges to move the country closer to the West.
The country was jolted last year by a confrontation between the president and parliament over a division of powers, and a snap election produced a narrow majority underpinning the country's pro-Western "orange" leaders.
Authorities also moved to remove doubts over preparations for Euro 2012 by ordering a halt to the construction of a shopping centre next to the Kiev stadium which had threatened to jeopardise its bid to host the final.
However, the issue of whether the stadium can be used is not yet settled.
Poland elected a centre-right government in November after the previous conservative-led one collapsed in the wake of a corruption scandal involving its deputy prime minister.
Surkis was confident that "massive enthusiasm" in both countries would ensure they were ready for the event.
"We have created a favourable climate for investments and my optimism is based on the political will of all parties involved to accumulate and use all resources available to get the job done," he said.
Since leaving office, Bill's gotten by with a little help from his friends. Now he's re-examining his circle
Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, NEWSWEEK
Last June, Bill Clinton took a break from helping his wife run for president to take care of some business of his own. He jetted off to the Black Sea resort of Yalta for an international conference sponsored by one of his good friends: Victor Pinchuk, a billionaire steel magnate and one of the richest men in Ukraine. In recent years, Pinchuk has become a fixture in Clinton's world, in part because Pinchuk has contributed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, the former president's charity that fights AIDS and poverty.
The investigation into the 2004 alleged poisoning of President Viktor Yushchenko when he was a candidate for the presidency remains unsolved, but there is no lack of chilling theories, some of which stain the President himself.
The poisoning supposedly occurred Sep. 5, 2004, when Yushchenko was running for presidency as leader of the pro-Western opposition against the incumbent pro-Russian authorities. The poisoning is believed to have drawn sympathy for Yushchenko and helped him win.