European values 'ridiculed' by Roma treatment: lawmaker
The expulsion of Roma minorities from Germany and France and an Italian minister's call for "xenophobe" policies have made a mockery out of European values, a leading European lawmaker said Tuesday.
The European parliament's Liberal bloc said several European governments have "brazenly stigmatised the Roma community" this summer and the issue should be debated at the legislature's next plenary session in September.
"The exiling of German-born Roma children to Kosovo, the military-style dismantling of Roma camps in France, the massive expulsions, and the encouragements of an Italian minister to carry out openly xenophobe policies, are sad events for the European Union whose values have been ridiculed," said Liberal bloc chief Guy Verhofstadt.
Verhofstadt requested that EU states and the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, issue a declaration on the treatment of Roma groups at the parliament's plenary in Strasbourg.
"The parliament must remind Europe of our principles and the commission must assure that the rights of minorities are respected," the former Belgian prime minister said.
France has in recent weeks launched a major and controversial crackdown on France's Roma, Gypsy and traveller minorities, closing unauthorised camps and expelling foreign-born Roma from the country.
Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni praised France's crackdown, saying in a newspaper interview on Saturday that Paris was "simply copying Italy" in flying more than 200 members of the minority to Romania last week.
The European Commission has said that it was monitoring the situation in France but noted that the French government was allowed to expel Romanians and Bulgarians after three months if they cannot show they have the means to stay.
© 2010 AFP