After weeks of restraint in exchanges between Sofia and Paris on the issue of repatriations of Roma people from France, there was a flurry of sparks after Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov hit out at French ambassador Etienne de Poncin’s statements calling for Bulgaria to appoint a ministry for Roma and to spend EU funds on improving the lot of the ethnic minority.
The contretemps took place against a background of European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding calling French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s policy on expulsions of Roma a “disgrace” while alluding to World War 2 policies against minorities. Reding’s statements drew indignation from Paris, with a cabinet minister calling her remarks “a gaffe”, backed by chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin who said that the EU commissioner had gone too far. The row was compounded when Reding’s home country, Luxembourg, was irked by Sarkozy reportedly saying that they should take in the Roma.
Read more at The Sofia Echo.