Today French President Sarkozy lashed out at the Commission (read the coverage from Matthew Saltmarsh and Katrin Beihold in the NYtimes), wrapping himself in French sovereignty and in the imperatives of providing security from crime.
Mr. Sarkozy called those remarks by the commissioner, Viviane Reding, an insult, and said they were “excessive” and “humiliating.” He also defended France’s right to carry out the removals, which have drawn criticism from human-rights groups and international organizations, as a matter of security.
“I am head of state,” Mr. Sarkozy told a press conference at a European summit meeting in Brussels. “I cannot let my nation be insulted. All the heads of state of government were shocked by the outrageous comments by Madame Reding.”
Sarkozy's defense relies on the stamp of approval applied by French national courts to the deportations, and his duty as head of state to put his citizen's security ahead of any other imperatives.
Mr. Sarkozy, whose government has vigorously defended the deportation policy, said Thursday that all expulsions to date had been carried out under French law and following decisions by judges without any “targeting” of specific groups.
But this logic completely ignores the whole point of having a European human rights charter. No doubt Vichy deportations of Jews would have been approved by Vichy courts if anyone had been permitted to challenge them and undoubtedly the Vichy government felt that removing Jews was in their security interest.
Italian Premier Sylvio Berlusconi, whose government has also conducted a deportation campaign against the Roma, defended the French actions as well. Of course if you need to rely on the notoriously scandal plagued Berlusconi to come to your rescue, you are hitting rock bottom.