Aug 272010

Roma situation in France

Foto: Giampaolo Squarcina on flickr

„We are enforcing simple rules. (…) One cannot just illegally occupy land without authorization.“
Brice Hortefeux, French Interior Minister

„The police told us we could choose between leaving now, on our own accord, or be expelled by force later. (…) So we agreed to leave.“
Young Roma man, who declined to be identified

„This is a shameful policy. It’s an electoral strategy. This will contribute nothing to the security of French people.“
Dominique de Villepin, former prime minister of France

„It is clear that those who break the law need to face the consequences. It is equally clear that nobody should face expulsion just for being Roma. (…)
The European Commission is prepared to have a very open, frank and honest dialogue with all Member States on how best to take on – using the Treaties and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as the basis – our joint responsibility for the Roma. I call notably on the French authorities to engage in such a dialogue with all EU Member States. If needed, the European Commission stands ready to act as a broker between Member States and to monitor and assess progress being made.
I regret that some of the rhetoric that has been used in some Member States in the past weeks has been openly discriminatory and partly inflammatory. The situation of the Roma is a serious matter. It should be on the agenda not just in August, but throughout the year, and it should be treated carefully and responsibly by policy-makers. National decision-makers have an important role to play to ensure both public order and the social integration of all Europeans who choose to live within their territory. Because Europe is not just a common market – it is at the same time a Community of values and fundamental rights. The European Commission will watch over this.“

Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

Background: There are between 10 million and 12 million Roma in the EU, in candidate countries and potential candidate countries in the Western Balkans. Roma people living in the European Union are EU citizens and have the same rights as any other EU citizen. A significant number of Roma live in extreme marginalisation in both rural and urban areas and in very poor social-economic conditions. They are disproportionally affected by discrimination, violence, unemployment, poverty, bad housing and poor health standards.
France deported hundreds Roma in defiance of growing domestic and international criticism of its crackdown on travelling minorities. Two specially chartered planes carrying Roma men, women and children left Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport and Lyon in east-central France and touched down in Bucharest mid-afternoon.

US-research on stem cells blocked by judge

Foto: .Annna on Flickr

„This ruling means an immediate disruption of dozens of labs doing this work since the Obama administration made its order.“
Dr. George Q. Daley, director of the stem cell transplantation program at Children’s Hospital Boston

„Embryos are preborn human life that should be protected and not destroyed. If there was a way of extracting the stem cells without destroying them, I would not be opposed to it.“
Ron Stoddart, executive director of Nightlight Christian Adoptions

„The Obama administration’s permission to use federal funds is critical for embryonic stem cell research to move forward and has set a great standard for the United States.“
Dr. Leonard I. Zon, director of the stem cell program at Children’s Hospital Boston

Background: A federal district judge on August 24, 2010 blocked President Obama’s 2009 executive order that expanded embryonic stem cell research, saying it violated a ban on federal money being used to destroy embryos.

Foto: Brenda Annerl on flickr

Minarette in Österreich

„Eine Moschee soll nicht versteckt sein. Denn versteckte Dinge sind immer problematisch und verdächtig. Wir wollen weder problematisch, noch verdächtig sein, sondern ganz normale Bürger und Bürgerinnen des Landes.“ (…) „Eine Moschee ist keine Bedrohung, sondern vielmehr ein Ort der Besinnung und des Gebetes. Ein Ort, wo man sich mit anderen trifft und Freundschaften schließt.“
Anas Schakfeh, Präsident der Islamischen Glaubensgemeinschaft

„Gebetshäuser ja, aber keine Mehrzweckeinrichtungen, aber kein Minarett und kein Muezzin“
„Die Menschen haben ein Recht darauf, diese Symbolik zu bewerten und abzustimmen, ob sie es den Muslimen zugestehen, solche Bauwerke zu errichten“
„Viele Muslime geben offen zu, dass sie mit Demokratie und unserer Rechtsordnung nichts am Hut haben und lieber in einem Gottesstaat unter der Scharia leben würden. Das ist jedoch völlig inakzeptabel.“
Heinz-Christian Strache, FPÖ-Obmann

„Es kommt nicht auf die Architektur der Moscheen an, sondern was darin passiert“
Anton Grabner-Haider, Theologe

Hintergrund: In einem Interview mit der APA erklärte der scheidende Präsident der Islamischen Glaubensgemeinschaft in Österreich (IGGiÖ) am 22. August 2010, dass in jeder Landeshauptstadt langfristig eine Moschee samt Minarett gebaut werden soll.

Foto: openDemocracy on flickr

US travel tax

„I understand that today’s decision is taken in accordance with the Travel Promotion Act’s obligations. Nevertheless, I regret very much the fee established by the interim rule. I have repeatedly raised concerns about the introduction of this fee and I remain convinced that these new requirements applicable only to travelers under the Visa Waiver Program, are inconsistent with the commitment of the U.S. to facilitate transatlantic mobility and will be an additional onus for European citizens travelling to the U.S.“
Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs

Background: Mrs Malmström made the statement following an announcement from the U.S. Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection who published the interim rule on an administrative fee of 14 US dollars for travelers to the United States. The new fee will become effective on 8 September 2010.

EU-USA Summit in Lisbon

“The transatlantic relationship is not living up to its potential. I think we should do much more together. We have conditions we have never had before and it would be a pity if we missed this opportunity.”

Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission President

“The US has no stronger partner than Europe in advancing security and prosperity around the world. The US and the European Union are currently working together to advance a broad agenda based on a common history, shared values and enduring ties.”
Statement White House

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