- Roma unwelcome in France - "Europeans are starting to expel each other?" Cartoon by Glez, Le Journal du jeudi - Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

European press thrashes France on Roma

All Europe has its eyes on France as it “repatriates” Roma to Romania and Bulgaria, and most deplore what they are seeing.

Published on 26 August 2010 at 15:27
- Roma unwelcome in France - "Europeans are starting to expel each other?" Cartoon by Glez, Le Journal du jeudi - Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Down in Romania,Jurnalul National is upset that Western Europe is sending “her gypsy elements" to the “trashcan of Europe”, reminding readers that in World War II, Romania and Bulgaria already took in many Roma deportees. The daily papercalls French president Nicolas Sarkozy the “black sheep” of Europe. Meanwhile,fellow Romanian paper Evenimentul Zilei calls “the gypsies the most dangerous people on the planet nowadays” and calls for “public policies that go beyond the usual clichés”.The paper notes that 681 Roma have been sent back to Romania since 28 July, and over 4,000 since the beginning of the year.

According to WAZ EUobserver, a website specialising in EU relations to southeast Europe, "The Romanian population has received the news of the beginning of the expulsion from France of hundreds - possibly thousands - of Romanian Gypsies with almost total indifference, bordering sometimes on outright hostility to the return of the marginalised social group....” “The Roma expulsion puts France in the populist footsteps of Italy,”avers El País: it is pressganging "a constitutional state into the service of political leaders’ imperatives and not equality and justice”.

“Sarkozy is conning the nation”

The French haven’t been donning kid gloves either on this issue: Libération says “France stands accused” andbemoans that "the degraded image of Sarkozy’s France isn’t just an image. It’s a reality as reported day after day in the foreign press,” a selection of which is reprinted in the Parisian daily to drive the point home.Trouw pronounces the return of the Roma "in flagrant breach of the European principle of equality”, which is why "the European Commission ought to take France to task”. "Sarkozy is conning the nation,"adds the Dutch daily.

Meanwhile, theAustrian paper Die Presse says the summit on immigration Paris has called for 6 September "isn’t just a slap in the face to Brussels’ efforts to dovetail immigration policy at EU level”; it actually calls into question "one of the basic principles of the EU: the right of European citizens to settle wherever they wish on Union soil. Other member states ought to remind Paris of that by, say, boycotting the summit".

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Austria’s Standard, on the other hand, reviles the hypocrisy of the media and the governments now condemning Paris: after all, the fact "that France and other European countries have been sending Roma back for years is fully documented in publications by theEuropean Roma Rights Centre". In fact,sums up the German weekly, " Sarkozy’s whole crusade is just a political bluff” aimed at “improving his odds of re-election in 2012." "A PR stunt that has boomeranged",concludes Der Spiegel: even the conservative press is knocking this “tactical manoeuvre”.


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