Foreign Minister says French expulsions appear racist

28-08-2010

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has attacked French president Nicolas Sarkozy over the country’s ongoing expulsion of Roma or gypsies originally from Romania. In an interview with the daily Lidove noviny, Mr. Schwarzenberg said it was impossible not to suspect that a racist perspective played a role in the ongoing expulsions. He said the move was against the spirit and position of the European Union.

Mr. Schwarzenberg also criticized the French president for the organization of a world summit on the Roma issue in Paris on September 6. The Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria, countries which host large Roma populations and certainly would have something to contribute, have not been invited to the summit. Canada, which has reimposed visas on Czechs because citizens from the Roma minority were seeking asylum, has been invited.

The Czech government’s nominee responsible for human rights, Michael Kocáb, said the Paris summit should not seek to decide people’s fates in their absence. The Czech Republic currently heads a multinational initiative on Roma rights grouping countries from central and southern Europe.