Romania and Bulgaria keep low profile on Roma expulsions
The Romanian population has received the news of the beginning of the expulsion from France of hundreds - possibly thousands - of Romanian Gypsies with almost total indifference, bordering sometimes on outright hostility to the return of the marginalised social group.
Like in many other Eastern European countries, gypsies are largely disliked inside Romania. According to official data, there are some half a million in the country, out of a population of 22 million, but many NGOs affirm that the real figure would be close to 10 percent of the population. The gypsy population is the second ethnic minority in Romania, after ethnic Hungarians.
The French government announced that it would shut down some 300 illegal Roma camps in the next months. Scores of camps have already been demolished by police and hundreds of Roma have been flown to Romania in what French officials call "voluntary repatriations."
In covering the development, the Romanian press has oscillated between amused indifference and undisguised approval of the French actions, with only some of the main national media outlets taking a neutral line.
Some papers questioned the legality of the French initiative. The national daily, Adevarul (meaning "The Truth"), wrote that "asking each country of origin to keep home their Roma is an infringement on the right to free movement." The popular press, however, stirred up anti-Roma resentment with titles like "The Return of the Gypsies" or "The Time of the Gypsies is Ripe."
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