Friday, May 16, 2008

Italy border plans do not target Romanians-Tariceanu

BUCHAREST, May 14 (Reuters) - Italy has reassured Romania that it is not the target of Italian plans to reimpose border checks, a move Rome says aims to fight illegal immigration from non-EU states, Romania's prime minister said on Wednesday.

Calin Tariceanu spoke with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini after Italy said it would tighten border controls, a move Italian newspapers said targeted Romanians and eastern European Roma people blamed for a recent rise in crime.

"Italy's foreign minister informed me that a set of measures on immigration being prepared by the Italian authorities is aimed at citizens from states that are not part of the European Union," Tariceanu said.

"No measures that can affect community (EU) citizens are intended. European regulations will be observed."

Earlier this week, Tariceanu said the Italian plan, which would make illegal migration a crime punishable by up to four years' jail, could fan xenophobic attitudes towards Romania.

Italian authorities say Romanians enter Italy without checks through neighbouring countries covered by the Schengen agreement that allows for passport-free travel within much of the EU.

The scheme allows for the suspension of the rules only for reasons of public order or national security.

Tariceanu said Romanian Interior Minister Cristian David would go to Rome on Thursday to discuss the issue of Romanian immigrants.

He did not elaborate but said the cabinet was seeking to also send a team of prosecutors and policemen to Italy to support the authorities' efforts to crack down on crime. (Reporting by Radu Marinas; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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