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Latvian political analyst: Our nationalists have turned from rats into hamsters

Political analyst, professor of the University of Latvia Ivars Ijabs. Photo: delphi. lv

The problem of refugees is tearing apart Latvia’s trilateral ruling coalition: unlike Unity Party and the Union of Greens and Farmers, the nationalists from VL-TB/LNNK are not ready to welcome immigrants from Africa and Asia. But, according to political analyst, professor of the University of Latvia Ivars Ijabs, they will be forced to agree.

In an interview to RuBaltic he said: “When you are sure that all the others will vote pro, you have a unique chance to show a special attitude as you know that you will face no consequences. With the National Alliance things are a bit different: it will be hard to force them to change their attitude but they have already achieved what they wanted: they have appeared as Latvia’s key protectors from the inflow of refugees.”

Ijabs doubts that VL-TB/LNNK is seeking to break down the coalition. “This force has quite experienced politicians, like Gaidis Berzins and Einas Cilinskis (former justice and environment and regional development ministers - EADaily), who realize that there are no alternatives to the current government. So, they will keep complaining of the government and saying that it has sold out to the Europeans and the Americans but they will continue working in it,” Ijabs said.

According to the expert, generally, the Latvian nationalists pose themselves as “rats,” but when driven into a corner, they turn into “hamsters.” “Of course, should there be a big conflict or some clashes between Latvians and immigrants, they may try to do something (to overthrow the government – EADaily), but this is hardly possible as the number of refugees will hardly be large enough to pose a threat to the locals. Much here depends on mass media – for if they continue showing things in a bad light, it will be a different story. The current number of the refugees Latvia has to shelter is symbolic, but who says that there won’t be more refugees in future?” Ijabs said.

In an earlier interview to LNT, the leader of VL-TB/LNNK Raivis Dzintars said that it would be bad if most of the refugees spoke Russian as those people would make Latvia’s Russian-speaking community even bigger. At the same time, he admitted that Latvia would have no choice.

On Sept 29, Latvia’s Cabinet approved the Interior Ministry’s plan of action to receive refugees. The plan may need some 16mn EUR. The corrected plan and total financial assessment is to be ready by Oct 20. The work group is expected to present the final report on November 30.

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