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France won't change deportation efforts

Sept. 17, 2010 at 11:55 AM
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BUCHAREST, Romania, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy said France would continue deporting Roma Gypsies it believes are violating immigration laws.

A meeting between Sarkozy and other European leaders broke down after the French president was criticized for deporting thousands of the Gypsies, The New York Times reported.

"There was a big argument -- I could also say a scandal -- between the president of the European Commission and the French president," Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, said in a report in the Bulgarian daily newspaper Dnevnik.

Sarkozy downplayed Thursday's incident but said France isn't violating EU conventions in its deportation practices, the newspaper said.

"We will continue to dismantle the illegal camps, whoever is there," he said at a news conference. "Europe cannot close its eyes to illegal camps."

Thousands of Roma have left Romania and Bulgaria in search of a better life since the countries joined the European Union but few have found better conditions.

Some live in small one-room apartments with no hot water, sharing bathrooms; others camp wherever they can find shelter, the newspaper said.

Sarkozy said Romania and Bulgaria have done little to help support their wandering citizens.

France gives Roma who leave the country voluntarily a resettlement fee of $392.

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