Flexible European values

Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH ProIgual

The actions of France expelling Roma received wide international resonance. Even Cuba´s Fidel Castro, not exactly the pioneer of human rights, issued harsh criticism of the French authorities, comparing current expulsions of Roma to deportations that took place under the pro-fascist Vichy government. However, France apparently does not enjoy to be on a receiving side of accusations of human rights violations.

“The use of ‘holocaust’ by Mr. Castro demonstrates his ignorance of history and disdain towards its victims,” said French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero. “Such words are unacceptable.” (Oh-la-a! The words kettle, pot and black spring to mind. Isn´t Mr. Valero who is somewhat ignorant of history and of Holocaust victims?)

President Sarkozy aptly summed up the nature of the French objections to criticism: “That´s not how you deal with a great state.”

Is it also, in a nutshell, the reason why the EU has been quite selective as to which countries it chides for their human rights record, while politely overlooking far worse violations elsewhere? Because Slovenia and Macedonia (for example) are not considered as great as China or Russia? Is it also the reason for a number of EU countries to allow secret CIA renditions? Because a great state can do no wrong?

Evidently, the EU member states´s values and standards have been rather flexible throughout recent history. But there is a chance to finally demonstrate what the Union is really made of: by sanctioning the “great state” of France for violating fundamental rights of EU citizens.