France's Sarkozy Cracks Down on Gypsies

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has made a decision to shut down at least 200 gypsy camps and expel their inhabitants. This measure, first of all, will affect the gypsies from Bulgaria and Romania.

The French President decided to take this radical step after the events of July 17 and 18 in the town of Saint-Aignan that caused a wide resonance in the country. Then a 22-year-old gypsy in his automobile broke through a fence put up by security personnel, and hit one of the gendarmes who attempted to block his path. The attacker tried to escape from the second patrol, but one of the policemen was forced to use a gun and shot the gypsy. Police believed that the victim was afraid of documents check because he had no license.

In response, approximately 50 gypsies attacked the police station in Saint-Enyane. Then the attackers began smashing the lights, burning cars and cutting down trees. The police had to call in reinforcements from neighboring areas to calm down the gypsies.

Incidents involving gypsies occur in Western Europe (not only in France) quite often. Particularly alarming is the situation with the representatives of this people who came from Bulgaria and Romania. They settled in camps and periodically stage attacks in the towns and villages. Therefore, Sarkozy had turned against them.

The President considered the non-legitimate situation with gypsy population from Eastern Europe on the French territory completely unacceptable. 200 illegal camps were discovered, which are the source of illegal trade, poor living conditions, child labor, prostitution and crime, stated the report issued by Élysée Palace.

The Head of State demanded to “proceed to the expulsion of immigrants from Eastern Europe who reside in France illegally. At the same time we will have a legislative reform to make evacuation from illegal camps more effective,” the report says.

Then Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux made his explanatory statement. He stressed that the gypsies who violate public order will be sent to Bulgaria and Romania. According to him, it is not 200 but 600 illegal encampments. It is also expected that France will interact with Bulgarian and Romanian law enforcement authorities regarding the issue of the return of gypsies to their countries.

Representatives of the French opposition parties (the Socialists, the Greens, and the Communists) condemned the decision of Sarkozy. They believe the President is trying to improve his rating, and to do this he is painting gypsies as thieves. Last year tens of thousands of gypsies were deported from France. However, the head of the state and ministers remained deaf to the criticism of their political opponents.

Problems with the Bulgarian and Romanian gypsies began in France (and in other countries of Western Europe) in late 1990s, when the EU decided to cancel the visa regime with Bulgaria and Romania. Since 2007, these countries have been EU members. Trips to the West have become even easier. Approximately one million of Bulgarians and 2.5 million of Romanians took advantage of this and set off to the West to make money.

Large gypsy communities of both countries have benefited from the opening of the borders. According to the official data, there are 200,000 gypsies in Bulgaria (2.5 per cent of the population). According to unofficial data, the number is 600,000. In Romania, these numbers are even more impressive – 550,000 (almost three per cent of the population) and 2,000,000, respectively.

France , Germany, Belgium, and even former socialist Czech Republic have been having programs of gypsies’ socialization for decades. They aim to ensure that representatives of this people quit their nefarious pursuits, move out of encampments in the city, and begin working and studying. We cannot say that the program brings no results. Many thousands of gypsies have managed to “fit” into the society.

However, Bulgaria and Romania cannot boast similar success. Most of the local gypsies continue living in camps, engaging in questionable, from the legal point, affairs. As soon as they were given an opportunity to move to Western Europe, hundreds of thousands of Bulgarian and Romanian gypsies rushed in, forcing the French, German, Spanish and Dutch police work hard.

For the most part, they do not intend signing up for a residence permit and getting a job, as required by Western rules. The French laws do not consider camps a type of settlement. The Bulgarian and Romanian gypsies joined the ranks of illegals that, according to the norms of any country, are subject to deportation.

Alexander Rahr, a German political scientist, provided his comments on Sarkozy's decision to deport Bulgarian and Romanian gypsies, as well as the situation with representatives of this people in Western Europe in general, for

“The problem of Bulgarian and Romanian gypsies really exists. It exists not only in France, but also in other Western European countries. We have to admit that when the EU decided to admit Bulgaria and Romania, the authorities have not thought about the ways of dealing with the local gypsies.

Western Europe was not at all ready for their massive influx. Europeans living in Paris, Munich or Brussels were not used to the fact that people could live like in gypsy camps somewhere under a bridge, do nothing, and beg for money. Of course, many do have problems with the law, and they have become a real headache for law enforcement agencies.

Sarkozy has decided to begin the deportation of the “aliens.” Incidentally, in Germany, as in France, there is the practice of deportation of Bulgarian and Romanian gypsies. Only the Germans, unlike the French, do not make it publicly.

I would mention that besides Bulgarian and Romanian gypsies in Western Europe, there are local representatives of this people. And they are positively different from their tribesmen from Eastern Europe. They do not live in encampments under bridges; they have apartments, jobs, and pay taxes. Some of them look no different than the French or the Germans. Of course, the local gypsies bring enough problems to the country's police. But these problems are minor compared to those with the Bulgarian and Romanian gypsies.

What should be done with these people from Eastern Europe? This is a complicated issue that affects the foundation of European political correctness. On the one hand, we cannot prosecute people based on nationality. Especially the gypsies who, during World War II, were burnt in the gas chambers in compliance with Hitler's orders. On the other hand, something has to be done with the representatives of this people who have Bulgarian or Romanian passports in their pockets and violate public order.”

It looks like Europe will have to think carefully about methods of integration of the Bulgarian and Romanian gypsies into European society.

Vadim Trukhachev

Read the original in Russian

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov