Aubry: give state land to evicted Roma

Peter Vinthagen Simpson
Peter Vinthagen Simpson - [email protected] • 21 Aug, 2012 Updated Tue 21 Aug 2012 11:58 CEST
Aubry: give state land to evicted Roma

Martine Aubry, the head of the French Socialist Party and mayor of Lille, has called for state land to be provided for the resettlement of Roma left homeless after the dismantling of camps in the city.


"Land is not hard to find. The state owns lands everywhere," Aubry stated in a press conference in Lille on Monday.
The Socialist Party leader denied reports that she had fallen out with the interior minister Manuel Valls over the dismantling of Roma camps in the city, arguing that it is the manner of the closures that she objects to, according to an AFP news agency report.
"We have demanded that this evacuation would be carried out with the relocation to another site outside of the urban area, but this has not been done," she said. 
She furthermore rejected any parallels between current government policy with that of Francois Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, praising Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault for taking a tough stance on Romania and Bulgaria.
Aubry is not opposed to the camp closures in themselves but has demanded that they are carried out with more "dignity" and that alternatives are provided.
"We are working with the prefect to find land outside the city," she said, referring to the state representative in the region.
With Francois Hollande's blessing, Interior Minister Manuel Valls has continued the previous government's policy of dismantling camps and repatriating hundreds of Roma to Romania and Bulgaria.
In preparation for deportation, there are plans to house the Roma in so-called integration villages, slammed as little more than "ghettos" by government critics.
The hardline stance is however popular with the public and makes political sense, according to analysts.
"Hollande and Valls don't want to give a centimetre of ground to the right on security issues," said Jerome Fourquet of polling institute Ifop to AFP. "They're trying to curtail the idea that the left is soft on crime."
But Valls' approach has not been received well by Green members of the government and some other ministers, who will meet with Jean-Marc Ayrault on Wednesday in a bid to reshape the policy.
Martine Aubry was among those who criticised Nicolas Sarkozy for being "anti-democratic" after his speech in Grenoble in July 2010 in which he outlined plans for the dismantling of the camps. 
Her stance has been cited as a contributory factor to a number of Roma moving to Lille hoping for a softer approach from the authorities.


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