Bulgarians, Roma Rally in front of French Embassy in Sofia

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | September 18, 2010, Saturday // 10:05
Bulgaria: Bulgarians, Roma Rally in front of French Embassy in Sofia France's Ambassador to Bulgaria, Etienne de Poncins. Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian Roma and citizens, who support them, are to stage a rally in front of the French Embassy in Sofia in protest against France's controversial deportation of Roma.

The protesters will hand a letter to the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, which demands that France should immediately suspend its expulsion policy, targeting people because of their ethnicity.

The letter points out that the Bulgarian Roma are European citizens on a par with the rest and France should respect their human and civil rights.

It also insists that the French government extends apologies to the deported Roma.

Earlier this week EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding threatened the European Commission is considering legal action against France over its deportations of Roma, which she called a "disgrace".

The case would then go before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, she said.

The Commissioner was heavily criticized in France and Germany after she appeared to compare France's actions to persecutions in Nazi-occupied France.

Reding later said she regretted interpretations of her statement.

Meanwhile French President Sarkozy went on to have a heated exchange with the EU Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, resulting in an unprecedented row between Brussels and Paris.

But despite all the sound and fury little has changed in practice, as France will continue dismantling illegal camps.

Almost 8,300 Romanian and Bulgarian nationals have now been expelled from France since the beginning of the year. Close to 10,000 were expelled in 2009.

Roma from Romania and Bulgaria are allowed free passage into France if they are European Union citizens. After that, however, they must find work, start studies, or find some other way of becoming established in France or risk deportation.

French officials have said the deportations are part of a broader crackdown on illegal immigration, but they have sparked major criticism at home and abroad.

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Tags: French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Viviane Reding, European Commission, Integration, Romania, Bulgaria, France, Roma, European Union, deportation, Italy, Roberto Maroni, ethnic Turks, European Commission, Schengen, Francois Fillon, Pierre Lellouche, Paris, Romania, German, Germany
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