Security Police: Immigrants might provoke right-wing extremists

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Latvia's internal Security Police (DP) thinks that increasing immigrant numbers arriving in Latvia might provoke a reaction of the extreme right wing, DP told the LETA news agency on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Latvian Employers Confederation has hinted that immigrants might offer a solution to employee shortages as Latvia's population grows older.

A DP source said that there's no significant support for extreme right-wing ideologies, so there's no substantiation to the view that there are significant extremism threats related to admitting immigrants.

However, in order to prohibit extremists from adding new members with anti-immigrant rhetoric, it's important to educate and inform the society about the refugee matter, the DP said.

There's no avoiding the risk that people connected with terrorism may arrive in Latvia, but it's a risk that can be dealt with by conducting thorough background checks. To prevent them from becoming attached to radical ideologies, it's important to integrate the immigrants into Latvian society in a timely and systematical manner, said DP.

Like the rest of Europe, Latvia is growing older. In the next ten years, 30,000 people will retire, while only 16,000 will enter the job market, the Latvian Employers Confederation (LDDK) reported on Monday. 

As elsewhere though, it is politically controversial to deal with the incipient workforce issue by admitting immigrants.

"Looking from the point of view of Latvian employers, the priority is to employ local workforce [..]," said LDDK.

For immigrants to start working in Latvia, a certain integration stage is necessary -- they have to learn the Latvian language, learn about local environment, customer service and other aspects.

"Therefore it is very important how integration of these people in the society will be organized," said LDDK.

The Latvian government at an extraordinary meeting in early July agreed that over two years Latvia would voluntary admit 250 refugees from Africa who need to be relocated within the EU. The Ministries of Interior, Welfare, Culture and Environmental Protection and Regional Development in collaboration with local authorities will have to work out a policy for their integration.

At a meeting Monday, EU ministers agreed to accept 32,000 refugees, mainly from war-torn Syria. the target fell short of the 40,000 figure previously agreed.

Of that figure, Latvia agreed to take 50 for "resettlement" and 200 for "relocation".

There have been heated debates within and without the coalition about the refugee matter, and MPs from National Alliance, along with several public organizations, have announced plans to picket against settling refugees.

The picket will take place on August 4, though ministers of National Alliance have announced that they will not be participating in the picket.

Interior Minister Kozlovskis has said that the first refugees will arrive in winter.

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