Romania's foreign minister let go of a major gaffe that could cost him his job. On a visit to Paris, Teodor Baconschi let loose with a few choice comments not particularly complementary of his country's Roma community. His suggestion that some Gypsies are born criminals got the civil rights groups going ballistic. That Baconschi made his remark in France is no accident. The Gauls are handling their own Roma problem, like elsewhere in Europe.
So what exactly did Baconschi say?
He was meeting with French state secretary Pierre Lellouche when the following fell out of the Romanian "diplomat's" mouth.
"We have some of the physiological, natural problems of criminality among some of the Romanian communities" in France, "especially among the Roma."
That got the human rights community in an uproar.
"It is unacceptable" that the person who represents Romania abroad uses "scientific explanations typical of the Middle Ages," the groups said.
Romania's Foreign Ministry denied Baconschi's comments had a "racist or ethnic tone."
If that were true, it's awfully strange that the ministry yanked the offensive remarks from its website soon after they went up.
Making the story more sad is the reason why Baconschi was meeting with the French official Lellouche.
According to Lellouche, there are at least 20,000 to 30,000 Romanian Gypsies in France, and many of them, in Lellouche's euphemistic words, have a "very poor situation."
So, France wants them out. So much so that Paris is willing to pay the Roma to leave.
In 2009, Realitatea TV said 8,000 Romanian Roma went home, but about two-thirds turned around and trekked back to the home of the Gauls.
So, Lellouche was looking for some type of guarantee from Baconschi that the Roma will stay in Romania and not return to France.
It all highlights a horrible problem for the Roma, many of whom are ill-educated, illiterate, and just ill-equipped to handle the rigors of a market economy ever pickier to those it provides a livelihood.
Here, in this France 24 report, some Roma in France tell of their hopes after leaving a "shantytown"
This Al-Jazeera report may be two years old, but it gives the story of the Roma in Italy, perhaps the most tragic in Europe.
As the economic crisis continues to bite harder in Europe, the Roma can expect things to only get worse.
This story, again from France, highlights what many say is the Roma's failure, or inability, to integrate into the majority society.
“We are entirely fed-up”, declared Jean-Francois Fribault, director of the shelter services of the town. “They left us with two housing completely destroyed, the social workers are completely tired”. Same feelings for the general authority: “Financially it is up to the state authorities to deal with this difficult case”.
Unfortunately, comments like that are not isolated.