Rome - Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni and his Romanian counterpart Cristian David were to focus on immigration and crime in talks scheduled later on Thursday. The meeting in Rome comes amid moves by Italy's new conservative government to tighten controls on immigration, including from other European Union member states like Romania.
Earlier this week Romania's Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu denounced reports that Italy was considering reimposing border checks, saying such measures could fuel xenophobia. Maroni, who is from the anti-immigration Northern League party, on Tuesday said he favoured making illegal immigration a crime and that such a measure could be included in a security decree to be approved soon by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government.
Maroni also said he would give the government's top public order official in Milan special powers to deal with the city's Roma camps which, as elsewhere in Italy, have been associated with crime in the northern city. On Tuesday authorities in Naples evacuated a Roma camp torched by local residents who were incensed by a Roma girl's alleged attempt to kidnap a baby. By Wednesday the 100 or so Roma in the camp situated in the low-income Ponticelli district had been moved to other Roma settlements in Naples.
The incident is the latest of a series of high profile cases involving Italy's Roma community - many of whom are of Romanian nationality and live in squalid shanty towns. Late last year the previous centre-left government expelled over 200 Romanian nationals with criminal records in the wake of the murder, allegedly by a Roma man of Romanian origin, of a housewife in Rome.