Nationalists ask special status for Latvia over refugee matters

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Latvia should be given a special status as regards admitting refugees for relocation within the EU, Gaidis Bērziņš, co-chairman of the ruling National Alliance, said on the morning news program of the public Latvian Television on Friday. 

Latvia should not „give in to various provocative threats” about the country losing the EU funding, if it did not agree to accept more refugees, he said.  

Nevertheless, the National Alliance has no intention to withdraw from the coalition government over the dispute over admittance of refugees, Bērziņš said. 

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said Latvia risks 'complete isolation' if it rejects admitting refugees.

Latvia now has to work with maximum speed to get ready to accept 250 people and, probably a large number of refugees, he said.

The most recent European Commission plan calls for Latvia to accept 776 refugees.

The foreign minister pointed out that, when presenting his proposals for a refugee relocation scheme, European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker had implied that this scheme would apply also in case of a potential deterioration of the situation in Ukraine when Latvia might get flooded with refugees from Ukraine. If Latvia did not help other EU member states with refugees now, it could not expect help from them in the future.

Latvia’s ruling Unity party has called an extraordinary meeting of the Latvian ruling coalition parties on Friday morning over the negative attitude of the other two ruling parties to the possibility of accepting more refugees under the new EU refugee relocation scheme.

The Unity representatives pointed out that avoiding solidarity and refusing to help with solving the EU refugee crisis might have dramatic consequences for the national economy and security in Latvia.

Among other things, the aircraft currently patrolling Latvia’s air space as part of the NATO Baltic air policing mission might be withdrawn as Hungary, one of the countries contributing to the air patrols at the given moment, is also one of the EU member states flooded with refugees.

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