Refugee admission the main event in 2016 for Latvians

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A majority or 60 percent of Latvian residents believe that admission of refugees will be the most important event next year, according to the latest DNB Latvia Barometer survey, reported LETA Monday.

Asked about the biggest possible everyday threats to residents, respondents most often named refugees and asylum seekers (32 percent), diseases (24 percent), and illegal immigrants (22 percent).

People also named stress and exhaustion (19 percent), unemployment (19 percent), crime (18 percent) as serious threats. At the same time 15 percent of respondents said that they would not see any threat at all next year.

Speaking about possible internal and external threat to Latvia next year, 53 percent of the polled people named refugees and asylum seekers, and 32 percent pointed at illegal immigrants. Also economic downturn (23 percent), poor public administration (22 percent), demographic problems (20 percent) and terrorism (18 percent) were named as quite serious threats.

"People believe that the potentially biggest threat can be caused by asylum seekers and refugees, even though objectively this is a group of migrants that the state has information about and a certain control of. Objectively speaking, people's fears are not adequate as 500 or 1,500 asylum seekers cannot threaten Latvia's security, economy or identity. Meanwhile, illegal immigration theoretically can pose threat because it is uncontrolled flow of people," said Latvia's MEP Artis Pabriks (Unity).

SKDS pollster's director Arnis Kaktins said that the majority of Latvian residents have very personal fear in relation to admission of refugees, and the cause of this fear is uncertainty. Politicians since summer have had enough time to calm people down, but it has not been done properly.

Latvian residents also quite often named relations with Russia (32 percent), government's reforms (28 percent), changes caused by the EU policy and decisions (26 percent) as quite important events next year.

The latest survey was conducted between November 6 and November 18, polling 1,007 Latvian residents, aged 18-74.

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