17 Sep 2010

Sarkozy, Merkel fall out over Roma deportations

2:37 pm on 17 September 2010

France and Germany are embroiled in a diplomatic row after German Chancellor Angela Merkel flatly contradicted President Nicolas Sarkozy on the issue of Roma camps.

The issue of Roma (Gypsy) deportations from France has dominated an EU summit.

Mr Sarkozy told a news conference that Chancellor Merkel had said to him that she intended to follow France's example in dismantling Roma camps.

Mrs Merkel's spokesman denies, however, that she discussed the issue with Mr Sarkozy.

Fresh from a blazing row with the president of the European Commission, Mr Sarkozy has managed to fall out with his closest ally in Europe, the BBC's correspondent in Brussels reports.

Mr Sarkozy told reporters at the summit that Chancellor Merkel had said she intended to dismantle Roma camps in the coming weeks.

Dismantling of camps will continue

Earlier, Mr Sarkozy said comments by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding that appeared to compare France's actions to the persecution of gypsies in Nazi-occupied France were deeply shocking and had wounded his fellow citizens.

France is deporting about 80,000 Roma to Romania and Bulgaria in a crackdown on crime, and Mr Sarkozy says the dismantling of illegal camps will continue.

The issue has overshadowed a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels that was to have dealt with trade matters.

The EU's executive commission has accused France of breaking EU law and threatened legal action.