Refusing refugees would make Latvia a freeloader: EU official

Refusing to admit refugees would be like refusing to pay a bill, said the Head of the European Commission Representation in Latvia, Inna Steinbuka, said in an interview with BNS on August 1.

She said that Latvia would be ignoring the solidarity principle if it refused to admit refugees.

"Let us imagine a situation that a company is having a meal at a restaurant, but, at the moment when the bill arrives, one member of the party announces that he will not pay the bill. It is not decent! Latvia is a part of a bloc of countries, receiving different benefits, for example, financing for implementation of different programs. The refugee issue also should be solved by all members, including Latvia," said Steinbuka.

She did not wish to comment on a possible consequences Latvia might face in case it refused to admit refugees from Africa, voicing hopes that the matter will be solved positively.

In accordance with a decision taken by EU justice and interior ministers, as many as 54,760 refugees will be admitted in EU member states. Latvia agreed to take in 250 refugees over 2 years.

Negotiations on the resettlement of refugees in member states are expected to continue until the end of this year.

Meanwhile on Monday morning Latvian Foreign Ministry state secretary Andrejs Pildegovics said in an interview with LTV's Rita Panorama show that Latvian representatives will be involved in choosing which refugees are taken for resettlement. 

“Latvian representatives will certainly be involved in this selection work,” the Foreign Ministry’s representative said. 

“I think that greater public involvement and a debate are needed. But to politically refuse to participate in dealing with this problem would be unwise, and I would say, even dangerous. In this way we would show that our country is ready to shun responsibility, tackling the EU’s difficult problems. We would show that we are ready to enjoy the benefits provided by the EU, but that we do not want to address its problems,” said Pildegovics. 

A workgroup, composed from representatives of seven ministries and headed by Interior Ministry state secretary Ilze Petersone-Godmane, is due to meet this week to work out Latvia's strategy.

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