Most Latvian MEPs against or abstain in refugee relocation vote

The European Parliament on Thursday backed plans to relocate 120,000 refugees around the EU to help Greece, Hungary and Italy. Lawmakers approved the plans by the European Commission by 372 votes to 124 with 54 absentions. Four of the Latvian MEPs voted abstained, while two voted for, and two - against. 

LSM's Russian-language site has come up with a list with how Latvian representatives in the parliament cast their votes.

Tatiana Zdanoka from Latvia's Russian Union, along with Andrejs Mamikins (Harmony), voted 'for', while Roberts Zīle (National Alliance) and Iveta Grigule (Greens and Farmers Union) voted against.

All of Unity's MEPs - Inese Vaidere, Sandra Kalniete, Krišjānis Kariņš and Artis Pabriks - abstained.

The emergency vote was called after EU interior ministers failed to back the scheme on Monday.

The Latvian government and coalition are going to hold extraordinary meetings on Thursday to decide on the refugee issue. Latvia has to adopt a position by September 22 when EU interior ministers are due to convene for their next meeting.

At a cabinet meeting Tuesday, Straujuma had said it would take until September 29 to formulate Latvia's position.

However with the political pressure building, on Wednesday morning an emergency cabinet meeting was announced for Thursday 17 September to establish what Latvia actually plans to do. 

Latvia has not agreed to take in additional refugees because two of the three coalition partners, the National Alliance and ZZS, are strongly objecting to it. Latvian Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis did not go to a ministerial meeting in Brussels on Monday because his country lacked a position on the refugee issue.

Unity, the leading partner in Latvia's center-right coalition, has warned that the refusal to admit more refugees might have negative implications for Latvia's economy and security.

The Latvian government agreed earlier to voluntarily accept 250 refugees, but, in line with the new European Commission proposals, Latvia might have to admit additional 526 refugees.

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