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In Brussels, Czech PM indirectly supports Sarkozy, Holomek says he is ignorant

Brussels, 16.9.2010 20:14, (ROMEA)

Speaking before the start of today’s EU summit in Brussels, Czech PM Petr Nečas indirectly supported the position being taken by France toward Roma from other EU Member States. In his view, each of the 27 Member States must insist its domestic laws be upheld, and the EU and other countries should not get involved in a problem which is partially about a domestic French political conflict.

"I am convinced that every EU Member State in which citizens of foreign EU Member States reside has the right to demand that foreigners either work, study, or demonstrate a means of financial support. Any Member State has the right to insists its domestic laws are upheld,” Nečas told journalists.

During the summer, Paris began accelerated deportations of Bulgarian and Romanian Roma who, after a legal, three-month stay in France, had ended up lacking both the necessary financial support and the legally required permits. The country also justified the deportations from a security point of view, referring to rising crime rates for which some of these immigrants in particular are allegedly partially responsible.

The policy has become the subject of a wave of criticism from many institutions and organizations. Some accuse France of intentionally targeting the minority, while others criticize it for treating EU citizens in this way, as both Bulgaria and Romania have been EU Member States since 2007.

According to the Czech PM, the EU and other countries should not involve themselves in the problem. "The EU and other countries should not get involved in a conflict that is essentially, in many instances, more about the domestic French elections than anything else,” Nečas said.

Later during the EU summit, the Czech PM issued a declaration stating that his words were not intended as an expression of support for France, which he claimed to have intentionally avoided making. “Moreover, I am convinced that the objective perspectives of external observers complicate the fact that this is also about a French internal conflict. I am therefore skeptical of other states or the EU intervening in this dispute,” he said.

Former Czech Human Rights Commissioner Michael Kocáb commented on the PM’s remarks to Deník Referendum as follows: “I consider the remarks made by PM Nečas in Brussels, which indirectly support the French actions against the Bulgarian and Romanian Roma, to be ill-considered. France is heading in the wrong direction in this case and must be criticized for it."

Unexpectedly, the question of the approach toward the Roma minority is supposed to be part of the agenda of today’s EU summit. "From the point of view of the Roma question, two positions are crucial for us. In the Czech Republic we consider this primarily to be a social problem and a problem of education, not a problem of a minority being discriminated against. We have done an enormous amount in the areas of social work and in securing quality education and accessibility to jobs on the labor market for Roma and similar people,” the Czech PM said.

However, authorities who have been working in these areas for many years in the Czech Republic do not identify with this point of view. “Nečas does not understand the first thing about this - the problem is only secondarily a social one. Primarily, the problem here is the discrimination, whether overt or tacit, which naturally occurs in the social area as well,” Karel Holomek, chair of the Society of Roma in Moravia, told Deník Referendum.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, Czech Press Agency, Deník Referendum, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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