France: Sarkozy tells people who like lax immigration laws to go eat a pastry.
|PARIS (Reuters) - French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday rejected charges his new immigration bill was a xenophobic drive for far-right votes ahead of 2007 presidential elections, saying it was a bulwark against racism.
The bill aims to attract a new generation of skilled workers who would embrace French values and traditions, thus improving race relations that hit the headlines during last autumn's riots in poor French suburbs, he said.
Sarkozy made his comments in an interview with Le Monde newspaper ahead of a parliamentary debate on Tuesday on his immigration bill, which has been sharply criticised by church leaders, immigrant support groups and the left-wing opposition.
The law would make it tougher for immigrants to bring relatives to France, force newcomers to take French and civics lessons and end their automatic right to a long-term residence permit after 10 years in France.
It would also create a three-year "skills and talents" residence permit designed to attract qualified workers.
Sarkozy said his policies aim to meet public concerns about an influx of foreigners and will allow France to select its immigrants rather than take anyone who comes.
"Selective immigration is practiced by almost all democracies in the world. And in those countries, racism and the extreme right are less strong than here. In short, it is a bulwark against racism," Sarkozy told Le Monde.
....Sarkozy's political career took off in 2002 in part thanks to a no nonsense style and reputation for getting results.
He prompted charges of xenophobia at the weekend by saying he was tired of having to apologise for being French and that those who did not love France could leave it.
Sarkozy told Le Monde people were free to criticise but had to accept French laws that banned discrimination against women and allowed newspapers to print cartoons even on religious topics, a reference to the row over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.|
West Africa countries are joining up with Europe to stop illegal aliens
|Praia - Four African countries - Cape Verde, Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal - have accepted participation in a European project aimed at curbing the current exodus of illegal immigrants towards Europe, said a reliable source.
The project, named "Sea Horse", was presented to Cape Verde’s police authorities by the Spanish civil Guard and will also include Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, France and Belgium, the source said on Tuesday.
The measures will include the implementation of a joint patrol system and the exchange of information between African countries involved and the European Observatory for illegal immigration.
As part of this project, which includes different levels of actions, some visits and conferences will be organised in order to draw up a regular procedure of dialogue between the agencies involved in the fight against illegal immigration by sea.
Some specific training on the phenomenon and sea specialities will be conducted beforehand.
The Sea Horse, which is supported by European institutions such as Frontex, Europol and the European Commission, will be conducted over three years supported by an initial budget of €2mn.
Cape Verde's coastal areas are more and more used by networks, which let illegal immigrants from countries along the West Africa coast into Europe. -panapress |