Germany Denies Plans to Clear Roma CampsBulgaria in EU | September 17, 2010, Friday // 13:16| views
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and French President Nicolas Sarkozy hug each other at the start of a European Union heads of state and government summit in Brussels, Belgium, 16 September 2010. Photo by EPA/BGNES
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has flatly denied claims by French President Nicolas Sarkozy that her country plans to start dismantling Roma camps.
Mr Sarkozy told reporters at the summit that Chancellor Merkel had said she intended to dismantle Roma camps in the coming weeks.
He then said: "We'll see how calm German politics will become then".
But promptly after landing in Berlin, the chancellor's spokesman firmly denied that Mrs Merkel had discussed any so-called Roma camps with the French president during the summit or on the margins, let alone their evacuation.
"Chancellor Merkel spoke neither during the European Council nor during talks with French President Sarkozy on the sidelines of the Council about supposed Roma encampments in Germany, not to mention their clearance," her spokesman said in a statement.
"The government supports France with regard to the form and tone of the criticism from EU Commissioner Reding," he added.
Meanwhile German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he thought there had been a mix up between Sarkozy and Merkel.
"I suspect there is a misunderstanding here because the chancellor said publicly and to me how the talks went and there was not such an announcement from the German chancellor," he told German public radio on Friday.
"That would violate the German constitution, and there are no such deliberations," he added.
Almost 8,300 Romanian and Bulgarian nationals have now been expelled from France since the beginning of the year. Close to 10,000 were expelled in 2009.
Roma from Romania and Bulgaria are allowed free passage into France if they are European Union citizens. After that, however, they must find work, start studies, or find some other way of becoming established in France or risk deportation.
French officials have said the deportations are part of a broader crackdown on illegal immigration, but they have sparked major criticism at home and abroad.
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