AlterPolitics New Post

EU: France Is Engaging In Ethnic Cleansing

by on Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 6:57 pm EDT in Europe, World

The European Union is considering taking legal action against France for violating EU’s discriminatory laws.  President Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-winged government has been engaged in a massive deportation of Roma — also commonly referred to as ‘Gypsies’.  This group has a long history of persecution in Europe.  Like Jews, Roma gypsies were targeted for annihilation by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

According to France24:

There are between 10 million and 12 million Gypsies in the EU, most living in dire circumstances, victims of poverty, discrimination, violence, unemployment, poverty and bad housing. An estimated 1.5 million of them live in Romania, a country of 22 million, which has the largest population of Gypsies in Europe.

The group originates from Romania and Bulgaria — both members of the EU — and are therefore entitled by law to live in any member state of the EU, including France.  But President Sarkozy contends that they are responsible for much of the country’s crime.  France24 reports that he has called “the camps in which some of them live, sources of trafficking, exploitation of children and prostitution.”   His Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux recently claimed that “over the past 18 months crime committed by Roma people has increased by 259 percent in Paris alone.”

It was reported that over 1,000 Roma had been deported in the month of June this year, alone.  European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso responded, at the time, with a veiled threat directed to the French President:

“Everyone in Europe must respect the law, and the governments must respect human rights, including those of minorities,” Barroso said in a speech to the European Parliament.

“Racism and xenophobia have no place in Europe. On such sensitive issues, when a problem arises, we must all act with responsibility,” he said.

But the call had little effect on the French government, which continued unabated with thousands of more Roma expulsions.  In August, President Sarkozy announced “a raft of new draconian security measures, including plans to dismantle 300 unauthorised campsites within three months.”  Opinon polls in August “showed that 79 percent of [French] voters approved of measures to dismantle the camps, and similar majorities backing other aspects of his law and order policy.”

Yesterday, Canadian TV disclosed that in the most “recent weeks, French authorities have dismantled more than 100 illegal camps and deported more than 1,000 Gypsies.”  In response, the EU finally decided to escalate its efforts in forcing France into complying with EU laws:

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said she was appalled by the expulsions, “which gave that impression that people are being removed from a member state of the European Union just because they belong to an ethnic minority.”

This “is a situation that I had thought that Europe would not have to witness again after the second World War,” she told a news conference, adding “the commission will have no choice but to initiate infringement procedures against France.”

France could ultimately be slapped with a fine by the European Court of Justice if its expulsions are found to have breached EU law. […]

After 11 years of experience on the commission, I even go further: This is a disgrace,” she said. “Discrimination on the basis or ethnic origin or race has no place in Europe.

She also harshly criticized French authorities for telling the EU commission that it was not discriminating against Roma — a claim apparently contradicted by news reports of a government letter ordering regional officials to speed up a crackdown on illegal Roma camps.

“It is my deepest regret that political assurances given by two French ministers is now openly contradicted,” Reding said.

She was speaking about France’s immigration minister, Eric Besson, and its European affairs minister, Pierre Lellouche.  Besson on Monday denied any knowledge of the reported Interior Ministry letter and did not speak to reporters Tuesday at a Brussels meeting on asylum issues. […]

Amnesty International had recently accused the EU of “turning a blind eye” to France’s ethnic cleansing:

Amnesty said the EU should penalize countries that have persistently failed to uphold the human rights of Roma. Among the harshest measures applicable under the charter of fundamental rights that came into force with the Lisbon treaty last year is the withdrawal of voting rights, or even expulsion from the union.

“The EU under the Lisbon Treaty…has the responsibility to address human rights within the 27 member states,” said Amnesty’s executive officer for legal affairs in the European Union, Susanna Mehtonen.

The Guardian reports recent Roma expulsions have been occurring in other parts of the EU, including Denmark, Belgium, Italy, and Germany.  Acts of discrimination and physical violence against the Roma have been reported in Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Here’s Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! discussing these recent developments with András Biró:


Is the World Dumping the American Dollar as its Global Currency?

by on Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 2:00 pm EDT in Asia, Europe, Middle East, World

Robert Fisk of the Independent is reporting today:

In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar.

Secret meetings have already been held by finance ministers and central bank governors in Russia, China, Japan and Brazil to work on the scheme, which will mean that oil will no longer be priced in dollars.

The plans, confirmed to The Independent by both Gulf Arab and Chinese banking sources in Hong Kong, may help to explain the sudden rise in gold prices, but it also augurs an extraordinary transition from dollar markets within nine years

Several factors may have led to this major turn of events:

  1. The ever-declining value of the U.S. dollar, rock-bottom interest rates, reduced prospects for growth (in large part from its present economic downturn), and seemingly out-of-control U.S. spending deficits.  These have led many countries to question the underlying future stability of the U.S. currency – one for which they’d rather not sell their products.
  2. China’s growing financial dominance and expanding influence in the region, where more than 10% of every Middle Eastern country’s imports originates from China.  The Chinese appear to have spear-headed the move away from the greenback.  Over the last decade, China became heavily invested in U.S. treasury bonds and other dollar-denominated assets – invested from its extraordinary trade surpluses.  The Chinese essentially underwrote Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy, the Iraq War, and are now funding America’s bank-bailouts, and recession-recovery spending.  It would like to ween itself off this current conundrum – thereby allowing itself to diversify its dependencies on the dollar.  But it must do so gradually, or risk devaluing its own U.S. dollar holdings, which currently accounts for much of its wealth (China is the world’s biggest holder of U.S. Treasuries).  For this reason, the group has set a date of 2018 (nine years) to complete the transition from the U.S. dollar to a basket of other currencies.
  3. Couple China’s new financial dominance with growing bitterness of the Arab states over US policies (Israel, Iraq, and, in particular, its power to interfere in the financial markets) and you’ve got yourself a global monetary coup d’etat.  Brazil and India have also expressed interest in completing their oil deals in non-dollar denominations.

How did the current global financial system become dollar-denominated in the first place?

Ever since the Bretton Woods agreements – the accords after the Second World War which bequeathed the architecture for the modern international financial system – America’s trading partners have been left to cope with the impact of Washington’s control and, in more recent years, the hegemony of the dollar as the dominant global reserve currency.

The Chinese believe, for example, that the Americans persuaded Britain to stay out of the euro in order to prevent an earlier move away from the dollar. But Chinese banking sources say their discussions have gone too far to be blocked now. “The Russians will eventually bring in the rouble to the basket of currencies,” a prominent Hong Kong broker told The Independent. “The Brits are stuck in the middle and will come into the euro. They have no choice because they won’t be able to use the US dollar.”

Upon the very release of this news in today’s Independent, the U.S. dollar nosedived towards year lows against the Yen and the Euro.

A Chinese Banker at the G20 Summit had this to say:

These plans will change the face of international financial transactions.  America and Britain must be very worried. You will know how worried by the thunder of denials this news will generate.

The Associated Press reports:

Officials in several of the countries either denied talks or said they had no knowledge.  But the denials did not stop the dollar sell-off.

Fisk reminds us that the motivation for wars most often boils down to dollars and cents (in this case, literally):

Iran announced late last month that its foreign currency reserves would henceforth be held in euros rather than dollars. Bankers remember, of course, what happened to the last Middle East oil producer to sell its oil in euros rather than dollars. A few months after Saddam Hussein trumpeted his decision, the Americans and British invaded Iraq.

Considering the impact a global desertion of the greenback would have on the American economy and its standard of living, it certainly seems plausible.