Kristovskis opens doors to African immigrants

  • 2011-05-25
  • From wire reports

RIGA - The nationalist political alliance All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK (VL-TB/LNNK) has asked Foreign Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis (Unity) to clarify Latvia’s official position on accepting immigrants from North Africa, says the alliance’s consultant Janis Iesalnieks, reports news agency LETA. Several high-ranking Latvian officials, including Kristovskis, have announced during the past few weeks that, due to the latest developments in North Africa and the Middle East, Latvia should consider accepting some of the refugees that will soon flood the European Union, points out VL-TB/LNNK.

Therefore, the nationalist alliance asked Kristovskis whether Latvia has already promised to accept a specific number of refugees or immigrants for a certain period of time. VL-TB/LNNK would also like to find out what the Latvian government’s position is on accepting potential refugees or migrants in Latvia for a limited period of time or permanent residence.
If the government’s position is still not clear, VL-TB/LNNK would like to know when the government will define its position. If the government has decided to accept refugees, then the party would like to know their potential number and the minister’s personal opinion on whether Latvia should accept refugees or migrants from Third World countries.

Kristovskis previously said that if the EU faces a massive influx of refugees that will not be able to return to their homelands on safe and long-term conditions and will require international protection, Latvia and the other EU member states should consider accepting them.

“The member states are not obliged to accept a specific number of refugees. Latvia must first make a political decision, whether and how many refugees the country is prepared to accept. The decision will depend on whether the country is able to ensure the minimum standards - accommodation, access to the labor market, social security system, health care, and education. In order to ensure this, the member states receive financial support from the EU,” explained Kristovskis.
At the international discussion forum ‘Africa Platform’ in Riga on May 20, Kristovskis highlighted the opposite direction of traffic flow, saying that Latvia is already sharing its experience with African countries. “We are also prepared to cooperate with countries which we have recently only gotten acquainted with,” the foreign minister said, explaining that “several years ago, Africa seemed very far away for us for various reasons, but now we understand that we must take advantage of these cooperation opportunities.”

Kristovskis pointed out that the discussion is not only a diplomatic one, but the Foreign Ministry wishes to attract the attention of Latvian entrepreneurs to the African continent.

He noted that Latvia has enjoyed the opportunities the African continent has offered modern civilization. Now, Europe wishes to “give back” to Africa with innovation projects and other assistance, which Latvia is involving itself in “step by step.”
The aim of the panel discussion is to promote the interests of businesses to integrate business activity within development cooperation goals in the African continent. With this discussion, attuned to Africa Day on May 25, the Foreign Ministry aspires to promote the interest of entrepreneurs about this continent, considering that development of broader international cooperation and the search for new export markets has special significance in overcoming the consequences of the global economic crisis. In addition, the opportunities provided by development cooperation in the states of Africa have been little explored until now. Currently, only but a few operate in this field.