France defends gypsy expulsions

Sept. 1, 2010 at 11:08 AM

BRUSSELS, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- A French government minister says his country's policy of deporting gypsies has been mischaracterized and subjected to "grotesque" attacks.

Immigration Minister Eric Besson told the EUobserver critics of the policy have made "scandalous accusations."

Besson and his colleague, Europe minister Pierre Lellouche, were in Brussels Tuesday to meet with European Union commissioners about the Roma expulsions.

France gives each Roma adult who agrees to leave a resettlement fee of $385.

They described the session as "frank, far reaching and constructive."

Lellouche suggested the problem lies with Romania which spends only a portion of the billions the EU provides on social projects for Roma integration.

Minister Bogdan Aurescu of Romania accused France of closing the door on the right of EU citizens to move freely throughout the bloc.

"We do not accept any restriction of freedom of movement," Aurescu said.

Human rights groups have accused France and other EU countries of triggering a "license to kill" climate toward Roma.

Monday a gunman shot and killed six members of a Roma family in Slovakia.

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