Latvian government adopts position on refugees

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The Latvian government on Thursday arrived at a position on the issue dominating European politics presently.

Following a series of quickfire meetings held in the wake of President Raimonds Vejonis dramatic issuance of a decree demanding action on Wednesday, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma emerged from an extraordinary cabinet meeting to tell reporters: ""The government voluntarily supported the resettlement of 526 people, which had been offered to Latvia."

That brings the total number of refugees Latvia will take in to 776, as predicted.

But the vote of her cabinet was not unanimous with three rebels voting against acceptance: Environment minister Kaspars Gerhards and Justice minister Dzintars Rasnacs of the National Alliance and health minister Guntis Belevics of the Greens and Farmers' Alliance.

The decision opens the way for Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis to participate at a planned EU-level meeting on the refugee crisis on September 22.

"It's important that Latvia doesn't stand on the sidelines but participates fully with its partners," Kozlovskis told reporters, adding that acceptance of refugees was only one mechanism in the EU's attempts to tackle the humanitarian crisis and problems of people smuggling and economic migrants posing as asylum seekers. 

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