Regional initiatives encourage re-emigration

An initiative seeks to encourage emigrants to come back to Latvia, with 'regional coordinators' tasked to address Latvians living abroad, learning about their needs and helping them if they want to return, reported Latvian Radio March 9.

It was started in February and currently sees five people in Latvian regions trying to lure people back to the country.

Astrīda Leščinska, the coordinator for Latgale, spoke to Latvian Radio about her tasks.

"To me, as a re-emigration coordinator, it's important to become a person of trust to compatriots currently living abroad, and to learn about their needs and problematic situations that impede their move back to their homeland. I give them suggestions as to how to solve matters related to employment, place of residence and education for their children," she said. 

Currently she's communicating with two families, who see finding work as a major obstacle hindering them from returning.

"Currently we're addressing them via email, and we haven't spoken to them on the phone. That's why we expect the immediate family and relatives to inform potential re-emigrants about the opportunity," she said.

The pilot project, headed by the Environment Ministry, seeks to address 500 people this year.

"It's not simple. It's a challenge. Regions have chosen different methods," the ministry's Regional Policy director Raivis Bremšmits said. 

Nevertheless there are people who don't want to come back. Ina Kārkliņa, who was unable to find a job after graduating from the university, left for the United Kingdom and doesn't plan to return.

She is working at the storage facility of an internet pharmacy and feels financially stable. 

"I've given ten years to this country. How does Latvia think that I'll return? I have nothing in Latvia. I haven't many friends left, I have not acquaintances or connections.

"The minimum wage here is €7.80 an hour. That's €1,200 for a full-time job, which is what a simple factory worker receives. It's much easier here. You can afford to travel, you can afford an entirely different life," she said. 

The program will cost the state €425,699, which includes a program for supporting businesses set up by people who return, with up to €9,000 to be spent on four projects in each region.

It'll take a year to see if the program has any success.

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