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French, Romanian relations not to be confined to Roma issue: PM


13:41, July 13, 2013

BUCHAREST, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Romania and France are indeed facing a Roma issue, but the bilateral relations cannot be confined to this, visiting French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault declared here on Friday.

Ayrault, who was on a two-day visit to Bucharest, attended alongside Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta a reception dedicated to the National Day of France, which falls on 14th of July.

"Of course there is an issue of the Roma, as they migrate in high numbers to France," Ayrault said in his speech delivered at the Embassy of France in Bucharest, complaining yet that "too often in recent months there has been a tendency to confine French and Romanian relations to the Roma issue."

According to him, Ponta is the first Romanian prime minister to openly approach the matter and say that the Roma minority has the vocation to live in its homeland.

"Just like you, I want to address the problems, to deal with them, but I don't confine our relationship to this issue," the French official said, stressing that "it is our duty to take action for France and Romania to continue to play an important role not just in bilateral relationships, but also in Europe."

In France, there are a great number of Roma people, also known as Gypsies, who come from Romania and Bulgaria living in illegal urban camps throughout the country.

In 2012, more than 12,000 citizens of Romania and Bulgaria, nearly all of them Roma people, were deported from France, an increase of 18.4 percent compared to the previous year, according to official statistics.

At a joint news conference on Thursday after his meeting with Ayrault, Ponta said the Roma minority's integration is "an important challenge" to his country, but Romania assumes all the responsibilities incumbent upon it in this respect.

He appreciated the French government's constructive position and support of "a correct, constructive and pragmatic approach" to the Roma issue.

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