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Sarkozy in dangerous game: Estonian Roma Gypsy leader

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(TALLINN) - The leader of Estonia's Roma Gypsy community Thursday slammed French President Nicolas Sarkozy over his government's repatriation programme, saying he was playing a dangerous game.

"The decision of the French president to kick out Roma Gypsies is nothing but populism aimed at getting extra points in elections, but for the rest of us in Europe it is also a very dangerous step," Roman Lutt, head of the Roma Gypsy Association of Estonia, told AFP.

"It sets a precedent and might easily be followed by other states," he said.

Estonia, a small Baltic European Union member state of 1.3 million people, is home to 1,500 Roma Gypsies.

Besides faulting France, Lutt noted that 90 percent of adult Roma Gypsies in Estonia were unemployed, and said governments across the 27-nation EU should do more to tackle the roots of the problem.

"Roma Gypsies everywhere in the EU should be better integrated into society through special education programmes that will account for our culture and will not assimilate us but integrate us," he said.

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