Small demo in support of welcoming refugees

Three weeks after an "anti-immigration" demonstration mixed reasoned opposition to EU rules with overt racism, Monday witnessed a small picket from the other end of the range of views on whether and how Latvia could or should help those fleeing North Africa and the Middle East.

A few dozen demonstrators met Monday evening outside the Culture Ministry - which has responsibility for integration policy - in an attempt to show that at least part of Latvian society is in favor of offering refugees a helping hand.

Helmuts Caune, one of the organizers of the pro-refugee picket, told the BNS newsire that his group represented those Latvians who considered migration a normal phenomenon. Their intention is to initiate a public debate on humane methods for integration of immigrants, he said.

The picket was organized to urge the ministry to produce a well-considered integration program, Caune said.

Half a dozen anti-refugee demonstrators, including some members of the bizarro 'Antiglobalisti' group, had stationed themselves across the street from the ministry in order to protest against the protest against their previous protest.

Andris Orols, apparent 'leader' of the anti-gay, anti-refugee, anti-NATO, anti-euro Antiglobalisti - who somehow manage to combine the trappings of anarchism with a belief in draconian state action - told the press that a referendum should have been held in Latvia on the subject.

He said he was not opposed to immigration as such but was against mass immigration, he said.

The European Commission has proposed sending 250 refugees to Latvia over two years.

Representatives of both groups were invited to a meeting with Culture Minister Dace Melbarde, who said that people in Latvia probably feared the arrival of refugees because they did not see a comprehensive solution to the refugee problem.

Answering a question from one of the anti-refugee demonstrators about the responsibility of the Culture Ministry if the integration plans failed and “refugees would be forming lines at soup kitchens,” the minister pointed out that different ministries had different responsibilities, and the Culture Ministry’s responsibility was to give the refugees knowledge about Latvia and the Latvian language.

Melbarde underlined that the success of the integration program depended also on the personal attitude of those, for whom this program was meant, and their willingness to use the opportunities created by the Latvian government to help them become part of the Latvian community.

The pro-refugee demonstrators reproached the Culture Ministry for insufficient efforts to change the public opinion in favor of refugees but the ministry’s officials rejected the criticism, saying that they were making efforts to this end but the public opinion could not be turned around overnight.

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 government also established a workgroup tasked with elaborating legal and practical arrangements for acceptance of the refugees and their integration in Latvia.

Since then, some demonstrations have already been organized in Latvia regarding the expected arrival of refugees, including a protest at the Cabinet building on August 13 that gathered several hundred people, who voiced objections to the government’s decision to accept refugees.

8 comments
Andrew
The Baltic states are definitely growing again, but dislike of liberalism and the change it accepts doesn't mean that it's right to predict the decline of liberal countries. I'll say nothing about the specific crime statistics you mention as I don't know how accurate they are. They rely on crimes being reported and recorded the same in both countries and I don't know if policing in Latvia receives the same funding per capita as in Sweden. I do disagree though with the idea that Sweden's economy is on the way out, especially given that emerging markets are loosing attractiveness this year (that benefits both Baltics and Nordics as they are now all developed economies despite some differences). The problems they do have, I just don't think the migrants are solely responsible.
Mikko
Actually I'm a Finn, who is just doing business with the locals. :) Regarding the source of statistics, some of it I took from UN and some from the Swedish newspapers. I fully agree with you that immigrants aren't the ones who should be blamed for the problems some Nordic countries faces now, the real trouble makers are/were politicians, media and NGOs. To fully illustrate the problems Sweden currently is facing, I really suggest you to read a blog entry from American Swede - swedenreport.org/2015/06/02/goodbye-sweden .
Andrew
The Nordic countries are getting worse every year? These are the countries that top every index in the world for standard of living. Things are not getting worse with every year, their societies are changing, but not for the worse. Refugees and migrants are not destroying societies as stable and prosperous as the nordic countries, they haven't destroyed similar societies like the Baltic states either.
Mikko
Before the financial crisis Greeks also were at good positions at many indexes, as it later turned out - they had cooked their books for years. ;) Therefore I'll exclusively look at facts (taking Sweden as an example). Criminal situation: it's 18 TIMES more likely to be raped in Sweden than in Latvia and it gets worser. Malmö a city with 2 times lesser population than Riga, had already 33 gang related blasts in first 8 months (1 blast every 6 days), if we add shootings and car burning cases then the picture gets even worse. Education: at PISA study all Baltic states have shown better results than Sweden (which is continuing to hit all time low). Industry: SAAB went bankrupt, Volvo trucks and cars are laying off people for years in row, SonyEricson ceased to exist. Almost every large industry in Sweden are getting more and more uncompetitive in global market.
Andrew
Mikko, You. Are. A. Xenophobe. But what do you actually want? Fear/Hatred of foreigners is fundamentally emotion and not rationality, use reason not emotion. You KNOW that migrant ≠ rapist, you know because you have a dictionary and can look up the definition of one, then the other. Tell us WHY you actually don't want what is happening to happen, instead of being a philistine. It's no use being barbaric then complaining when you don't win new voices over to your opinion because you used emotion and not reason.
Mikko
You can call me however you want. ;) However, it doesn't change the fact that some Nordic countries have turned into the 3rd world rapists' and criminals' paradises. And I'm saying that as a guy who has lived most of his life in one or another Nordic country. The overall situation is getting worse with every year, like it or not.
Andrew
Yay for cosmopolitan liberalism :D bringing Latvia into it's Nordic future!
Mikko
Also want to be a part of the rapist paradise? Be careful what you wish for, cause fruit isn't as sweet as it looks like. ;)
Comment
Comment using your social media profile
Society
Society