Romanian minister warns against 'racism' on Roma
Romania's minister for the Roma community warned Thursday that France's widely-criticised mass expulsions of the travelling minority could "degenerate into racism".
"Many people in Romania are worried that people can believe that it is possible to resolve the problem by actions that could degenerate into racism and xenophobia," the minister, Valentin Mocanu, told reporters in Paris.
He spoke after meeting Wednesday with French ministers to discuss the deportation of hundreds of Roma immigrants. On Thursday 283 Roma were put on planes back to Romania after being removed from illegal camps in France.
Both sides described the talks as friendly and constructive, involving Mocanu, Romanian security minister Dan Valentin Fatuloiu and France's interior, immigration and EU affairs ministers.
Mocanu added on Thursday: "I insisted to the French authorities that there should be a better communication on this subject, in order to held French civil society better understand the situation" of the Roma.
Many Roma have migrated to EU countries from Romania and Bulgaria since the two eastern states joined the bloc in 2007. They complain that discrimination prevents them from finding work in their home states.
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy says the deportations are part of a crackdown on crime but they have been criticised by officials of the United Nations, European Union and by the Vatican, who cited discrimination concerns.
"We do not consider there is an excess of Romanian citizens today in France," Mocanu said.
The French government says there are some 15,000 foreign Roma in France.
© 2010 AFP