France’s European Affairs Minister Pierre Lellouche says he will officially ask Thomas Hammarberg, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, to explain his comments on France’s Roma policy.
On the micro-blogging site Twitter, Hammarberg wrote that "the current political rhetoric against the Roma is similar to the words used by the Nazis and fascist regimes. Politicians must show more responsibility." He also added a link to a feature on President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi on German television.
Lellouche responded to the comments with anger, saying that Hammarberg’s comments had “surprised and shocked” him.
In recent months, the French government has hardened its policy toward Roma communities and has deported several hundred Roma to Romania.
Opposition parties in France, the UN racism panel and human rights groups have unanimously condemned France.
Four main European parliament groups are working on a common resolution to ask France and other EU members to stop deporting Roma people.
The resolution written by the Socialists, the Liberals, the Greens, and the Communists, is to be put to the vote today.
Lellouche and Immigration Minister Eric Besson are also travelling to Romania today to discuss France’s Roma policy with the Romanian government.