Swedish Minister: Romania lacks political will to solve Roma issue

In an interview for Austrian daily newspaper ‘Der Standard’, Birgitta Ohlsson, Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, has stated that Romania lacks the political will to solve the Roma issue and underlined the need for a joint system overseeing the compliance with human rights in EU Member States, which could also include sanctions.
“For several months, Sweden has been negotiating with Romania towards using European funds to prevent the Roma from emigrating. I am disappointed that the Romanian Government has refused to cooperate on European level. We need other parties in these negotiations,” Birgitta Ohlsson said, as cited by Mediafax.
When asked why Romania has blocked efforts to create a ‘taskforce’ (editor’s note – foreign aid for the use of European funds to help integrate the Roma), Birgitta Ohlsson replied there were multiple reasons, including pride. “Romania lacks political will. Furthermore, it does not have the administrative capability to use EU funds efficiently. It is one of the Union’s poorest countries. Pride probably plays a part in it – Romania does not wish to have observers from other countries,” the Swedish official explained. When asked to comment on Titus Corlatean, the Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs’ statement accusing her of using the Roma topic as a political campaign strategy and casting doubts as to whether this project was ever discussed on a personal level, the minister emphasized “the problem was discussed on multiple levels for several months.” Ohlsson also listed the most serious concerns related to the Roma, namely structural poverty, unemployment, and living conditions. “If he (editor’s note – Titus Corlatean) is under the impression my reaction to human rights violation was harsh, I take pride in that,” Birgitta Ohlsson said, adding that she has submitted a letter to the European Commission on the need to create a taskforce for the Roma.

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