Roma NGO: Political interests behind row surrounding Romanian panhandlers in France

Roma representatives react to the panhandling row in France. The National Union of Roma Communities (UNCR) considers that political interests are behind the row and reminds that all EU countries condemned Romania for not managing to integrate the Roma but now they themselves are not capable of doing so. “Sending them back to Romania is not a solution. Instead they should integrate them, especially since there are programmes, NGOs and institutions that can do it. Had there been a true interest in doing that, this kind of messages would not be issued,” UNCR President Florin Motoi stated. UNCR Secretary General Mihai Neacsu admitted that the panhandling phenomena exists but pointed out that it is not as widespread, being instead very visible. “If a woman in a colored dress is panhandling in downtown Paris half the central media takes her picture and broadcasts it on five TV stations,” Neacsu explained. “If we were to truly exert efforts reality would change in 10-15 years. Romania was condemned by all EU countries for not integrating the Roma but now they can’t do it either,” Neacsu added. The UNCR representatives also stated that they too will fight against a series of so-called Roma traditions, traditions such as child marriage. In what concerns the latter, UNCR representatives claim that child marriage is not part of Roma traditions and appeared after the Revolution, particularly among rich Roma families.

Meanwhile, Romanians have been once again the butt of jokes in France, this time on Canal Plus’s Les Guignols de l’Info show. The satirical show this time showed President Sarkozy and Internal Affairs Minister Guéant bringing their last homage to a Romanian and a Nigerian soldier killed in Afghanistan. “I would like to address our brave heroes too and to assure them that they will go back to their countries surrounded by their own people. Corporal Popescu, along with 24 other Roma, on the Paris-Bucharest flight at 2.30 PM,” the French Internal Affairs Minister states while the Romanian soldiers’ coffin is placed in an ambulance. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Doris Mircea stated yesterday that the French Internal Affairs Minister, not Romanians, was the target of the satire.

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