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French Secretary of State: France will continue to strongly back Romania in the accession to the Schengen area

Between Paris and Bucharest there is not even one millimetre of problems, but, on the contrary, a close collaboration, and France will continue to strongly back Romania, in the accession to the Schengen area included, even if this will be done in two steps in order to calm all European partners, David Douillet, Secretary of State in charge of French people abroad with the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Paris, who payed a visit to Romania these days, told a press conference on Friday.

'France has always supported Romania and continues to strongly support Romania. There are not any distortions between our countries, but, on the contrary, there is a close collaboration. Our ministers exchange letters, want to meet, there is not one millimetre of problems. ... My opinion is that we are two countries wanting to work together hand in hand. We have an important cooperation, significant exchanges, Romanian specialists working in France and the other way around,' said the French official.

When asked about France's position on Romania's accession to the Schengen area, the official of Paris underscored that his country's opinion had always been that Romania should join the Schengen area. 'But there are a few steps that need to be followed in order to calm everyone. A first stage, in a certain period of time, will allow everyone to calm down and the accession inherent problems to settle, and afterwards the final accession will be completed,' David Douillet said.

Moreover, the French official underlined that the employment of the term 'Romanian delinquency' in France was improper, in the conditions in which it was specific to the minority Roma population. 'It is focused on a certain population. This mixture creating misunderstandings and this false stigmatisation should not be done. Unfortunately, there are mafia networks exploiting a population. There is this Roma population, but they also live in Bulgaria, Ukraine. And this mixture through which it is said, 'Beware, they are Romanians!' is not true,' Douillet said.

When asked why French Interior Minister Claude Gueant at the beginning of this week mentioned the 'Romanian delinquency' estimated at 10 percent of the total number of crimes committed in Paris, Douillet showed that the minister was right, because most of the Roma people in question came mainly from Romania, but added that the overall generalization of Romanians was to be avoided. 'We should not generalize it. I know Mr Gueant and he is right, because the Roma people come from Romania, but it is a population that we know and that also lives in other countries. Romanians should not be seen like this as a whole, because this is not real. ... This mixture is being done on the streets, but we must fight against it,' the Secretary of State with the French Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

At the same time, he pointed out that the presence of the 'Romanians' topic in some satire TV shows in France could be harmful because it leaded to the confusion between the delinquency of the Roma people beggar networks and Romanians as a whole.

The French official on Thursday also met Romanian Foreign Affairs Minister Teodor Banconschi, who, according to a MAE release, underlined the importance of the good social integration of the Romanian community in France, requesting the avoidance of collective stigmatisation through the exacerbation of isolated cases.

The visit of State Secretary Douillet was mainly devoted to meetings with representatives of the French community in Romania (approximately 3,000 registered persons and off-the-record estimated at 5,000 persons).