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Roma – France/isolation

Published on September 21, 2010
Interview given by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to the “Aujourd’hui en France” newspaper

Paris, September 18, 2010


Q. – Our opinion poll shows that the French are very sensitive to the criticisms. How can you justify France’s policy to people abroad?

THE MINISTER – Governing also involves explaining one’s choices. Over and over again. So we have to go on doing this with our European partners. The vast majority understands and shares the need to see Europe contribute to integrating the Roma, in priority in their country of origin. European funds already exist; they must be better used. We are asking the European Union to increase its mobilization.

Q. – Shouldn’t the government modify its policy?

THE MINISTER – French policy is in line with our national and European legislation. When there are illegal camps, it’s normal to evacuate them.

When foreigners do not fulfil the conditions governing the right of residence, it’s also our duty to apply French and European laws. All these decisions are taken under the supervision of a judge. It will take time to resolve this problem. I’m very familiar with the issue: already as a humanitarian aid worker, I was concerned about the Roma’s situation. Back in 2008, during our European Union presidency, we put this subject on the table and organized the first summit on the Roma in Paris.


Q. – But isn’t France is the process of isolating herself?

THE MINISTER – I travel a great deal and assure you that talk about the isolation of France is totally at odds with the facts. With our partners and our allies, we have taken the initiative in the face of the major crises: to deploy exemplary solidarity with Haiti, come to the aid of the countries threatened by terrorism in the Sahel with the help of our European partners, fight piracy off the Somali coasts, encourage resumption of a direct dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians… With President Sarkozy, we are conducting a resolute and fair foreign policy./.

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