President: Anti-refugee protests not helpful

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President Raimonds Vejonis said Tuesday that border guards and other law enforcement agencies such as the Security Police need more resources and manpower but warned politicians not to stoop to cheap populism when talking about refugees and immigrants.

Speaking on LTV's Rita Panorama news show, Vejonis stressed the need for the authorities to draw up a credible integration plan for the new arrivals. Latvia has agreed to take in 250 of the thousands fleeing warzones in North Africa and the Middle East.

"The most important from our side is creating a framework which enables these refugees to integrate in society," he said, while stressing that only refugees with no history of radicalism would be welcome and that Latvia society should not become radicalized in response to any perceived threats. 

"In terms of the radicalization of society - this process can naturally occur and can cause problems. Therefore I request that the Ministry of Interior, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs Ministry clarify the issue of refugees, in order to reduce suspicion of refugees," he said.

Society should not fall into "fear of the shadows" and stereotypes when discussing refugees, Vejonis recommended.

"We need to concentrate on moving forward and taking action," he asserted.

"We're in the European Union and we voted to be part of the European Union... when you are part of such organizations you need to show solidarity," he said in reference to plans for EU countries to share the refugee burden.

He also advised politicians not to take part in planned protests against refugees and immigrants, saying calls by right-wing politicians to do so were "negative".

"It's not far-sighted [action]," Vējonis suggested.

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