There are now as many as 12 million Gypsies in the world (their birthrate is far higher than that of other Europeans). A large proportion have until now been bottled up in Eastern Europe. They are in many ways the European Union's worst nightmare, even though the great and the good of the EU lack a socially acceptable vocabulary for even discussing in public their concerns about Gypsies (more fashionably known as Roma or Romani).But, I expected Gypsy troubles in Western Europe to take a few years after 2004 to build up:
The Communists made this traditionally nomadic people more sedentary, so an immediate deluge of Gypsies moving west may not be likely. Nevertheless, it's hard to imagine that all the Gypsies will stay in drab, hostile Eastern Europe when there are so many more cash-heavy and unsuspecting pockets to pick in the fat lands of the West.From today's NYT:
Roma, on Move, Test Europe's 'Open Border' by Suzanne Daley
Roma like Maria Murariu, 62, who tends to her dying husband in a foul-smelling room no bigger than a jail cell. She has not found work in five years.
â€?There is not much for us in Romania,â€? she said recently, watching her husband sleep. â€?And now that we are in the, we have the right to go to other countries. It is better there.â€?
Thousands of Romaniaâ€™s Roma, also known as Gypsies, have come to a similar conclusion in recent years, heading for the relative wealth of Western Europe, and setting off a clash within the European Union over just how open its â€?open bordersâ€? are.
A summit meeting of European leaders on Thursday degenerated into open discord over how to handle the unwanted immigrants. Presidentof vowed to keep dismantling immigrant camps and angrily rejected complaints from officials that the French authorities were illegally singling out Roma for deportation.
... Expulsions seem unlikely to offer a long-term solution. Many of the deported Roma are already planning their return. Privately, some Romanian officials snicker over the French action.
â€?They are just giving the Roma a paid vacation,â€? one official said. Still, advocates for the Roma hope that the latest conflict will force the European Union to get serious about helping the Roma, who are openly reviled in most Eastern and Central European countries where they have lived in large numbers for centuries, most often under appalling conditions.
â€?There is nothing to focus the minds of policy makers like an army of poor people heading your way,â€? said Bernard Rorke, the director of Roma Initiatives for the nonprofit Open Society Foundation.