Bulgarian leader slams France over Roma expulsions

15th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Bulgarian President Georgy Parvanov criticised France's treatment of Bulgarian and Romanian Roma on Wednesday, insisting it "ran contrary to European values".

Parvanov, a former left-wing party leader, was the first top Bulgarian politician to take on France on this issue.

The right-wing government of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has so far largely refrained from making any comments after some 38 Roma returned from France over the past weeks.

"What happened with the expulsions of Bulgarian and Romanian Roma from France cannot be called good European manners and runs contrary to European values," Parvanov told national radio Wednesday.

"I do not consider mass repatriation like this as normal," he added.

If people broke the law, this information should be made public, but "in no case should guilt be ascribed according to ethnicity", Parvanov insisted.

Some 53 Bulgarian Roma have either been expelled or have voluntarily returned to Bulgaria since July, data from the French embassy in Sofia showed.

Bulgaria's foreign ministry has meanwhile recorded 38 voluntary returns by Roma since the French crackdown on illegal camps started in August.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's controversial policy against the minority has already drawn ire from numerous human rights groups as well as the European Commission, which has even threatened legal action against France.

© 2010 AFP

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