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Kultūras ministrija plāno integrēt iebraucējus ar PUA

Integration policy plan leads to 'immigration scandal' on social media

A fragment of the Ministry of Culture's (KM) plan for a cohesive and civil society has gained widespread public attention. From a sentence mentioning an increase in the proportion of third-country nationals with permanent residence permits, for example, the National Alliance (NA) has concluded that the Ministry is planning an increase in immigration. The industry minister calls such claims blatant disinformation, Latvian Television reported on May 8.

On the draft legislative portal, a joint and civic society plan developed by the Ministry of Culture is currently available for public consultation. It is set out at nearly 70 pages, and one of the sentences in this plan has led to widespread uproar.

It reads: "percentage of third-country nationals who first obtained a permanent residence permit per year, PMLP. (2019 1.1%; 2027 2,2%)".

This sentence has been discussed, supplemented, and stretched in various ways over the past few days on the social networking site "X", mainly concluding that the Ministry of Culture has drawn up a plan to increase immigration.

With this headline, a press release has also been distributed by the party National Alliance.

"We can open this plan and we can see that there are indeed plans to double the number of third-country nationals from 1.1 percent to 2.2 percent within a few years. The plans must be written in such a way that they are unambiguous," noted Ināra Mūrniece, deputy of the Saeima of the National Alliance.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture, which has prepared a plan for a cohesive and civil society, explained that the percentage of third-country nationals mentioned in the document is not a ministerial plan, but a projection by researchers in 2020, which, moreover, has no connection with attracting new immigrants.

"The way this discussion has gone right now is complete disinformation. I will remind you that the Ministry of Culture is not dealing with immigration policy. The Ministry of Culture is responsible for the policy of integration or a cohesive society," said Minister of Culture Agnese Logina (Progressives).

The Minister said the plan is about integrating people already in Latvia into society, not new arrivals. The permanent residence permit referred to in the plan can be obtained by residing in the country for five years, as well as by knowing the official language.

Data from the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP) show that nearly 50,000 permanent residence permits were valid in Latvia on December 31 last year, moreover, the number of such permits has slightly decreased in the previous years.

Several hundred people obtain permanent residence permits each year, and the number of such permits does not tend to increase significantly, as opposed to the number of temporary residence permits. For example, 786 permanent residence permits were issued last year.

The Ministry of Culture's plan refers to several studies, surveys, and reports. It is important to add that such a plan – for 2022-2023 – was also approved during the government meeting on January 18, 2022, when the Minister of Culture was Nauris Puntulis of the National Alliance. And the plan he approved also contained an almost identical sentence about third-country nationals. The years, and therefore the percentage, vary.

Until May 20, everyone can express their opinion on the legal portal, and only afterwards will the plan be viewed in government.

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