The latest murder committed in Rome by a gypsy of Romanian citizenship has made Italy explode. For a long time the Italian press been supporting an intense campaign on the worryingly diminishing public security in the streets of Rome. But this latest murder has got all the ingredients to turn all Italians against the immigrants from Romania: a woman alone in the street was grabbed, raped and beaten to death. The perfect recipe for the explosion of public opinion, already irritated at previous incidents of the kind.
It is no wonder the Italian government members got together at once and passed an emergency to make the expelling of citizens dangerous for public order easier. Although it doesn't mention the Romanians, this ordinance will be used against Romanians to calm down both public opinion and the enraged press. It is very likely that community structures should have nothing to say against this Italian ordinance. There have been highest level talks within the EU on the growths of criminality because of the gypsies from Romania and Bulgaria. The main fears, seemingly fueled by certain information, were about an 'alliance' of Western criminal structures with gypsy clans in the Eastern Europe that has recently joined the EU. The public hatred exploding in Italy does but make Romanians' image in Europe worse. And Bucharest authorities have kept a low profile as far as this is concerned. PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu talked to PM Romano Prodi, but the Italians passed their ordinance anyway. President Basescu's stiffness in foreign affairs, rather soft during his meeting with President Yushchenko, would be of no great help. The problem is in Romania.
Experts in mass media experts may dislike the "gypsies of Romanian citizenship" phrase. In their slang, this is "a useless reference to ethnicity" and also a break of professional deontology. But as far as I know, in the camps illegally built in the outskirts of many cities there aren't many Romanian-origin Romanians, but there prevail the gypsy-origin Romanians. As for beggars, prostitutes and pickpockets, they are about the very camps inhabited by gypsies of Romanian citizenship. They are phenomena of these communities and the reference to ethnicity is necessary.
The statistics on the gypsies in Romania are very worrying: growing illiteracy rate reaching 29%, actually no chance to get employment and shabby dwelling places. Sociologists put it briefly, like a sentence: poverty leads to criminality. One can also hear voices claiming the gypsies used to be the slaves of Romanians until 150 years ago. And the most absurd idea is that they should be paid damages for these 500 years of slavery. But the Romanians in Transylvania too used to be serfs under the Hungarian rule.
It is not slavery or discrimination that should be under debate now. Once with Maria Theresa, all the European society's policies on the integration of the gypsies were on education, hygiene and jobs. But they have been in vain so far. The European Union wasted dozens of million Euro on pro-gypsy programmes just to face explosions like this one in Italy. Something seems to be wrong in the Brussels approach. The positive discrimination and the waste of money in the last 17 years haven't yielded. The much too praised concept of positive discrimination has managed to do away with an ethnic community's troubles nowhere in the world.
And here I come back to the Transylvanian Romanians example: the number of schools teaching in the mother tongue was much smaller than the number of schools teaching in German or Hungarian and people of the latter origins also had key positions in the state. Even without positive discrimination, the Transylvanian Romanians managed to leave the serf label behind in just a few generations.