Foreign Ministry warns of dire consequences if Latvia closes door to refugees

The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has presented a report to the government on the likely consequences for the country if Latvia maintains its current stance not supporting the reception of asylum seekers.

The report makes eye-opening reading, reeling off a long list of predicted consequences affecting everything from financial aid to defense.

"Should Latvia fail to support the reception of asylum seekers, the Foreign Ministry report indicates that Latvia could expect to encounter political, financial and legal consequences in the longer term. The Latvian Foreign Ministry emphasises that Latvia may well miss the chance to receive support from EU institutions on questions of interest for Latvia, such as the strengthening of the Eastern border, the development of a common EU framework for the fight against the threat of hybrid warfare, the establishment of a compensation mechanism in relation to the sanctions imposed by Russia," a statement by the ministry said.  

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to give advance warning that, with this approach, Latvia could lose support from the EU and NATO on a number of issues vital for Latvia. It cannot be ruled out that Latvia’s position against asylum seekers could, in the future, trigger opposition when it comes to decisions of importance, including with respect to strengthening of NATO’s presence in Latvia within the framework of collective defence or Article 5. In joint projects with EU partners, especially Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Sweden, Latvia could also experience an impact."

The ministry also suggested that Latvia could also face renewed pressure over the ‘non-citizen’ status of mainly ethnic Russian residents if it plays the non-citizen card as a reason not to take in new refugees.

"Demagogic argumentation of this kind is contrary to national legislation, can call into question the consistency of Latvia’s policy and muddles clarification of the status of ‘non-citizens’," the ministry warned, adding that Latvia’s non-citizens "cannot be compared to asylum seekers from third countries... from the standpoint of both national legislation and international human rights, Latvia’s non-citizens should be regarded as equivalent to Latvian nationals."

As if that wasn't enough, the Foreign Ministry also suggests that "non-compliance with EU decisions can also have legal consequences," namely, violations procedure under Article 258 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, which could ultimately result in Latvia being fined a large lump sum - and then having to take in refugees anyway. 

Currently the Latvian government is divided on the issue of refugees with two of the three parties in the ruling coalition opposed to accepting them on principle.

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