Why Is Latvia Whining About Refugees?

It is both astonishing and embarrassing that we live in a country where the majority of politicians (Harmony party aside) are against accepting a quota of refugees affected by the Mediterranean crisis.

I find it depressing that Latvian politicians can be so stubborn and ignorant. It reeks of Soviet-era mindset and sadly reinforces tragic stereotypes.

We seem to be quite happy to accept NATO support when we’re under alleged threat, and more than happy to diddle the EU for extra cash when it suits our agenda (800,000 Euros for Expo 2015, which we’re not even attending!), but when the EU calls on us to assist in return for all the benefits we get, we are somehow led astray by a xenophobic government and a Prime Minister who cares more about making sure we oppose a compulsory quota, than helping out people who are in need?

Lest ye forget Latvia, about 250 thousand Latvians, and indeed many others from the rest of the Baltic countries were once themselves refugees, forced to seek refuge in the Western world by World War 2 and the second Soviet occupation. Perhaps you are all so blinded by your Soviet-era hangover that you fail to see the irony in this.

Quite possibly the most incredible thing is that according to the EC’s initial proposed refugee quotas, Latvia would only have to take in 220 refugees, and even updated numbers still sit under 1000 people in need.

Germany, Sweden and Austria (who take the largest share of refugees) as well as Italy and Greece are all in favour of the plan. Even Ireland has agreed to take refugees, despite not taking part in the EU asylum policy.

Latvian “politician” Dainis Liepiņš even goes as far to say:

“Not to mention the threat to all of Europe’s security from terrorism, as various European security structures constantly warn that the masses of refugees flowing into Europe contain Islamic terrorists,”

Well Dainis, let’s not help anybody then – because they could all be terrorists. Maybe we should stop all Latvians leaving the country, because a handful decided to travel to Ukraine and fight with the Russians.

It seems fitting, that Liepiņš is currently unable to take his seat in parliament while an investigation is ongoing into allegations he made an incorrect income declaration. Latvian politicians trying to get more money for themselves? Surely not!

Maybe nobody has mentioned to the Latvians that they’d be getting 6,000 Euros per head for every refugee they take in. Perhaps it’s best to keep that under your hat, since it’s hard not to imagine plenty of that money being filtered off to friends-of-friends instead of being used to help the situation for which it’s intended.

Much like Nils Ušakovs’s incredibly petty fight against a 50 Euro fine recently (which he vowed to take to the European Court Of Human Rights, despite being in clear breach of the law), Latvian politicians seem to be making a mountain out of a mole-hill, and letting pride and stupidity stand in the way of making a good decision about foreign policy.

Are the politicians so foolish as not to realise that the growing number of refugees (not “economic refugees” I should add) is a direct result of the military and political interventions of the European powers (and USA) in the Middle East and North Africa? Have we forgotten the Iraq war, the bombing of Libya, the civil wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, or the arming of Islamist groups by the Western powers and their regional allies? We are driving people from their homes, yet refusing to allow them to relocate.

And the injustice is that these refugees who drown in the Mediterranean, or live in limbo on the fringes of Europe are used as justification for more military intervention by the EU. Truly frightening stuff.

The real cherry on the cake however, is that in spite of Latvia’s staunch quota opposition, our population is declining. In 2014, the population went down by 15,400 people. We are hemorrhaging people at an alarming rate, yet we seem to be unable to accept more refugees, and I can’t understand why.

(CC image courtesy of Charlie on Flickr)

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