President: immigrant scare not helpful

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Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis believes that the National Alliance, one of three parties in the Latvia government coalition, is causing panic with its demand to suspend the planned admission of asylum seekers due to be relocated to Latvia from other EU member states.

Vejonis said in an interview with Latvian public television channel LTV on Tuesday that this proposal to a certain extent is causing panic in society.

At the same time, Vejonis called on Latvia residents to be compassionate towards people who are fleeing warfare in their home countries.

"We must continue to support asylum seekers... [we will] carefully check each candidate and proceed," Vejonis said.

The president said that Latvia will continue work on admission of refugees. Europe should join forces and strengthen its southern borders and develop an efficient mechanism for sending back people who do not meet the requirements for the refugee status, and a fight against human traffickers should be launched, he maintained.

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday, the National Alliance on Monday released a statement, demanding the suspension of the planned admission of 531 asylum seekers until there was certainty that no terrorists had arrived in France posing as refugees, despite the fact that so far all suspects named by French police as being responsible for the atrocities are European Union citizens.

Also speaking on LTV Tuesday, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma insisted the identities of all asylum seekers admitted to Latvia would be carefully vetted by security services.

Both President and Prime Minister said that anti-immigrant demonstrations would not be an appropriate way to celebrate Latvia's Independence Day, which is marked November 18.

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