Fates of Latvian residents in UK post-Brexit still unclear

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The United Kingdom is interested in attracting foreign talent, however specific rules for immigrants, including Latvian immigrants, are still to be worked out, said British Ambassador Sarah Cowley during debates with the Saeima committees on European and foreign affairs on February 8.

Cowley said that Britain wants to strike a deal that would bilaterally ensure rights to British nationals in the EU and Latvian nationals in Britain, and that the agreement would allow people to continue doing business and studying, among other things.

However working out specific rules over what Brexit means for people who live and work in Britain will be part of the talks, because the EU's position is still unclear, she said.

"Latvia respects the UK citizens' vote over choosing that the country withdraws from the EU. Currently it's important to agree over the two sides' cooperation following Brexit, keeping the involved parties' interests in mind as much as possible," said Lolita Čigāne, head of the European Affairs Committee at the Latvian parliament.

"It's clear the separation will be painful, however it's important that it's constructive and directed towards long-term cooperation," she said.

While Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs on a visit in Brussels on February 7 said, outlining Latvia's position in the talks, that the EU should not opt for a punitive approach towards Brexit.

"Any desire to 'punish' the Brits for their choice - which should be respected by the rest of EU - is unacceptable to us," said the Foreign Minister.

He also underscored the importance of the fate of Latvians living in the UK, as well further cooperation in economy, foreign affairs, security and defense, said a press release on Latvia's Foreign Ministry website.

Britain is expected to start the process of withdrawing from the EU in March. Around 52% of British voters supported the country leaving the EU.

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