FRANCE BEGINS ROMA EXPULSION – SARKOZY FINDS A SCAPEGOAT

roma aug 19 2
France has spent the summer pursuing a controversial plan of cracking down
on camps where Roma and other traveler minorities live. On Thursday, the first
93 Roma were put on a plane for Bucharest, Romania. Here, Roma standing
at thecheck-in desk at Charles-de-Gaulle airport.

The London Telegraph

The first 79 Roma who agreed to a so-called “voluntary return procedure” will be put on an afternoon flight to Bucharest, the first such expulsion since Sarkozy last month vowed action against Roma, Gipsy and traveller communities.

France intends to fly 132 more to Timisoara, in western Romania, and Bucharest on Friday and 160 on August 26, with each adult granted 300 euros and each minor 100 euros.

roma aug 19 4
On Aug. 13, French police surrounded a camp in Langlet, south western France,
before closing it. The camp provided a home to hundreds of people.

The first 79 Roma who agreed to a so-called “voluntary return procedure” will be put on an afternoon flight to Bucharest, the first such expulsion since Sarkozy last month vowed action against Roma, Gipsy and traveller communities.

France intends to fly 132 more to Timisoara, in western Romania, and Bucharest on Friday and 160 on August 26, with each adult granted 300 euros and each minor 100 euros.

roma aug 19 3
French authorities have cleared out dozens of camps across the country this summer. The policy of clearing out illegal camps is not new in France. But the sharp tone coming from Paris have led many to conclude that the Sarkozy government is trying to distract from abysmal public opinion polls.

Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi said he was worried about the risk of “xenophobic reactions”.

“I am worried about the risks of populism and xenophobic reactions in a context of economic crisis”, Mr Baconschi said.

roma aug 19 5
This family lived in a camp in Roubaix in northern France — before being
forcibly evicted on Aug. 17. Paris has justified the camp closures with
public safety concerns.

French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux will next week receive senior Romanian officials including Secretary of State for Roma Integration Valentin Mocanu to discuss the Roma’s predicament.

About 10,000 Roma from Romania and Bulgaria were returned to their countries last year, but this is the first expulsion since Sarkozy in July announced a clampdown on foreigners.

roma aug 19 6
The French government has spoken of “voluntary repatriations,”
but the camp clearances, as here in Montreuil, just east of Paris,
have not always been free of unrest.

MEMORY LANE


Baconschi said he “hopes” that all legal procedures have been duly applied for these “expulsions”.

The European Union’s executive arm has said France must abide by the bloc’s freedom of movement rules when it expels Roma living illegally in the country.

MEMORY LANE DEUX


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The European Commission is following the situation “very attentively”, a spokesman, Matthew Newman, said.

Most of the Roma who were sent to Romania last year returned to France afterwards as European citizens free to travel in the EU, officials admitted.

The French foreign ministry insisted the measures being taken against the Roma were in line with European rules.

“The measures taken by the French authorities with regard to dismantling illegal camps fully conform with European rules and do not in any way affect the freedom of movement for EU citizens, as defined by treaties,” foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

roma aug 19 7
While on holiday in southern France, Sarkozy found the time
to praise his industry minister for his resolve.

Valero said a European directive “expressly allows for restrictions on the right to move freely for reasons of public order, public security and public health”.

There are about 15,000 Roma of Eastern European origin in France.

The Roma community in Romania numbers 530,000 according to the national census or 2.5 million according to non-governmental organisations, who say that some do not declare themselves as Roma fearing discrimination.

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See Related: FRANCE

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