Friday, October 10, 2008

ROME, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Italy and Romania are working to reach an accord on the issue of Romanian immigrants in Italy, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said on Thursday following bilateral talks with his Romanian counterpart Calin Popescu Tariceanu.

"Our justice and interior ministers have already been working together and we are rapidly moving towards a conclusion that is absolutely satisfactory for both countries," Berlusconi said on the same day when a national statistics bureau report showed that Italy's Romanian population almost doubled in 2007.

The premier stressed that negative press coverage of crimes committed by Romanian immigrants in recent months should not overshadow the economic contribution of the many "serious" Romanians who have integrated well into Italian society.

But he reiterated that there was a "social integration problem" with Italy's Roma gypsy community, many of whom are of Romanian origin.

"Romanians are EU citizens and we must work to find a common solution under European law: the problem is that people without professions or training arrive here who are then turning to crime in order to live," he said, adding that it was "time that the entire EU" addressed the issue.

Tariceanu also underlined his concerns that Romanian citizens should enjoy the same treatment in Italy as other European citizens.

The two leaders said in a final statement on the talks that fighting crime would continue to be a priority on both sides.

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