Ukraine's Tymoshenko claims backing of Merkel and Sarkozy
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is using an endorsememnt by a European umbrella party to claim support by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nikolas Sarkozy, according to news reports Wednesday.
A television campaign advertisement first aired by Tymoshenko Tuesday evening cited a statement by a senior official of the European People's Party (EPP) as evidence that the leaders of Germany, France, and Poland personally supported her bid to win Ukraine's top office, DPA reported.
Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and Sarkozy's Union for a Popular Movement are members of the EPP.
EPP President Wilfried Martens, in an open letter on January 18, congratulated Tymoshenko on her second-place finish in a first round of voting in Ukraine the day before, and described her as "the only democratic pro-European candidate" in Ukraine's February 7 presidential election run-off.
Tymoshenko's 40-second television ad singled out Merkel, Sarkozy, and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk as EPP members favouring Tymoshenko's policies and her candidacy. The Martens' letter named none of the three.
Anna German, senior spokeswoman Viktor Yanukovych, Tymoshenko's opponent in the run-off, accused the Tymoshenko campaign organization of lying to Ukrainian voters.
"Yulia Tymoshenko is a fake. Neither Angela Merkel, nor Nicolas Sarkozy, nor Donald Tusk has ever stated support for Tymoshenko as president of Ukraine," German said, in remarks reported by the Unian news agency.
Natalia Lysova, senior spokeswoman for Tymoshenko, denied German's allegations, telling a reporter from the German News Agency dpa, "It (support of Tymoshenko by Merkel, Sarkozy, and Tusk) is absolutely true, it's in the European People's Party letter."
The EPP, is an umbrella centre-right group with 72 member-parties from 39 countries, with its representatives making up the largest faction in the European Parliament.
Officials at EPP headquarters had no immediate comment on the Tymoshenko campaign ad's claims.
Tymoshenko, a populist politician, currently trails Yanukovych, a politician closely linked to big business, by some 10 points, according to the most recent popularity polls.