Mr Nicolae, what is happening in France?
On July 28, French president Nicholas Sarkozy announced a series of measures to deal with Roma communities in France. These include plans to shut down around 300 illegal camps, expulsion from the country of all Roma from Romania and Bulgaria who have committed public offences, an exchange of policemen between France and Romania, and targeted checks by the fiscal authorities of Roma possessing expensive SUVs.
In what way do the measures against Roma communities affect human rights and legality?
Targeting only Roma or migrants (from Romania, Bulgaria or anywhere else) to be expelled for committing public offences cannot be seen as anything but racism. If these policies were applied to French citizens alike, in cases of bribery, nepotism, corruption, financial mischief, embezzlement (fancier words describing thievery and other public offences) a good part of the French political class would have to be expelled, or have their citizenship revoked.
What is the attitude of the French Ministers in this whole affair?
Some French officials have been often accused of arrogance and paternalism and sometimes of neo-colonialism and racism. French Minister for European Affairs Pierre Lellouche has been very vocal for the last year on the issue of Roma, especially Romanian Roma. Lellouche has a talent for putting his foot in his mouth and being abrasive. He is best known for calling the British PM “pathetic and autistic”. He has also accused David Cameron of trying to “castrate” Europe. He aggravated both American and Turkish governments due to his inability to control his aggressive verbosity. Some of his speeches in Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia seem to indicate he might have preserved some of the French arrogance and paternalism well documented in dealings with Tunisia (the minister was born in Tunisia during the French rule) and other ex-French colonies.
In your opinion, what is the major failure from governments towards the Roma communities?
Since the beginnings of 1990s, Romanian Roma have travelled (mostly temporarily) to France. Measures to deal with their migration adopted by the French governments were rarely sufficient and most of the time inadequate. French governments have never employed an expert on Roma issues and have proved completely uninterested in supporting the creation of such expertise at the level of the EU. Roma have been the topic only of empty and often bombastic speeches which either aim to prove that France is promoting equality and human rights, or try to justify or promote blatant racist policies whenever the right wing of extreme political class needs a diversion or a scapegoat.
A game of “ping pong” between European Union bodies and Member States on the responsibility for social inclusion of Roma has led to the existing situation. It is not historically unique: Italians, Irish, southern French, Polish, Spanish,Asian and Jewish immigrants who left their countries for the US at the turn of the last century were considered by the American elites as inferior, prone to criminality and prostitution. Some were forced to return. However, the horrendous crimes in Europe during the time of Nazism led to the strong rebuttal of racist theories.
What about Italy in particular?
As expected, some extremist Italian ministers also started to make lots of noise requesting sending back of undesirables. Both France and Italy are keen in presenting Roma issues as a huge security threat. We are talking about France – the EU country with the biggest riots in the last period – less than 5 years ago -over 200 million Euros lost , close to 3000 cars burned, almost 3000 people arrested, 126 policemen and firemen injured, 127 cities affected - and all these due to a complete failure of social inclusion of the poorest French citizens and Italy – the country with the biggest criminal network in the world – the Mafia with estimated business of 130 billion euros out of which 59 billion euros from drug trafficking and 5.8 billion euros from selling arms. It sounds like a terrible joke but politicians seems to be completely immune to hypocrisy and very happy to use racism as a way to gain votes.
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