Bucharest warns of "xenophobia" after French Roma raids

18th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi said on Wednesday he was worried about the risk of "xenophobic reactions" after France's recent clampdown on Gypsy Roma camps.

"I am worried about the risks of populism and xenophobic reactions in a context of economic crisis", Baconschi said in an interview with the Romanian service of Radio France International (RFI Romania).

The French governement has said it will on Thursday begin expelling to Romania and Bulgaria around 700 Roma rounded up in a clampdown on members of the minority living illegally in France.

Baconschi said he "hopes" that all legal procedures have been duly applied for these expulsions, and called on French authorities not to use threats and accusations to resolve the problem.

"If we throw accusations at each other and if we criminalize collectively entire ethnic groups, we will bring back unpleasant memories and instead of bringing solutions this will create tensions, often artificial", Baconschi added.

"We have to see what we can do together in France, in Romania as well as on European level to find schools, hospitals but also to look at the members of this minority with openness and not xenophobia", the minister said.

There are about 15,000 Gypsies and 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.

© 2010 AFP

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