Romania Says Italian Immigration Policy Will Not Temper Relations

Romania says Italian immigration policy will not temper relations

FOCUS News Agency
10 June 2008 | 00:02 |

Rome. Romania's foreign minister sought to downplay the potentially sensitive diplomatic issue of Italy's recent clampdown on immigration, which has targeted Romanians, on his visit to Rome on Monday

“We must not let these issues negatively influence our bilateral relations,” said Lazar Comanescu at a meeting with his Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini, as reported by ANSA news agency, AFP reported.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government has tightened the vice on immigration policy by recently adopting harsher laws against illegal immigration and making it easier to expel foreigners.

Meanwhile special officials have been appointed to rid Milan and other big cities of Romanian gypsy camps.

“I am convinced that certain unfavourable developments like those relating to the planned measures or those already carried out by the Italian authorities will not go so far as to influence relations” between the two countries, said Comanescu.

Yet the minister also appeared to try to divert attention away from this possible diplomatic sore point.

“A superficial analysis could appear to show that our relations only concern immigration, which is of course a significant problem, but this would risk by-passing the fact that our relations are rich and encompass many areas,” said Comanescu.

The Romanian minister said that effective cooperation between Rome and Bucharest, both members of the European Union, would avoid “anything that could seem, even from afar, like xenophobia”.

Comanescu said Italy had assured Romania that its new immigration policy would fall within the norms of the European Union.

On Sunday, about 3,000 gypsies took to the streets of Rome to protest against alleged xenophobia against them amid widespread anger among Italians, who blame them for rising crime and insecurity.

Several gypsy camps in southern Italy were torched last month forcing Roma inhabitants to flee under police protection.

On Friday, police in Rome cleared 122 residents from a camp in the Testaccio area near the historic centre without advance warning, transferring them to an area on the outskirts of the Italian capital. All 122 have Italian citizenship.