Bulgaria: Call for minister to resign after Roma remark

ANKARA - Bulgaria’s Health Minister Petar Moskov has been called on to resign after declaring on Sunday that ambulances would no longer intervene in Roma-populated areas due to security issues.

The opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms, or MRF, called for Moskov’s resignation on Tuesday.

At the national assembly, an opposition MP said Moskov had violated six laws and conventions on the rights of minorities.

Paramedics and mobile intensive care units would now only enter Roma neighborhoods under police escort if their safety was not guaranteed, Bulgaria's health minister had said.

The local human rights watchdog Bulgarian Helsinki Committee NGO accused him of "incitement to racial hatred.”  

Speaking at the parliament, Moskov said there had been 227 attacks on medics since the beginning of 2014 and that three-quarters of these had taken place in residential districts where Roma people live.

"Am I to blame for speaking and would the problem not exist if I had not said that?" he asked.

Officially there are more than 325,000 Roma residents who live below the poverty line and are in desperate need of public health services.

The Roma population of Bulgaria has been present for several centuries and has been administratively part of the official Bulgarian population since the end of Ottoman rule in 1879. 

However, its status remains different and its rights are only partial compared to the rest of the population.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency