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Asylum seeker: I’ve not come to Latvia to live at the country’s expense

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUFor the first time after his arrival in Latvia in June, asylum seeker from Syria Mahmud Zlavi publicly signed an employment agreement with a potential employer yesterday, 15 August. This employer is a local transit business company W.E.E.S.A.

Mahmud Zlavi is an educated and professional construction manager with 30 years of experience in management posts in international companies. In addition, he is fluent in English and Arab language. Those are the skills that attracted the attention of the aforementioned employer, who promptly invited him for a job interview.

«Right now Latvia is my family’s home. I will do my best to understand Latvia more and learn the local language. I would like to emphasize that I’ve not come here to live at the country’s expense. I want to work. I think there are two conditions for having a successful life here – language and work. I am intensely studying Latvian language now. Once I receive the remaining documents, I will be able to realize the second condition,» – he said.

According to his potential employer, board member of W.E.E.S.A. Gulams Gulami, Mahmud Zlavi’s knowledge, experience and language skills are in demand in companies engaged in transit business. «When I saw Mahmud’s CV, I immediately understood that he has a lot of experience in organization of work in international companies, especially in oil and gas companies, which is one of our main business directions. We immediately saw eye to eye. Another factors – I was forced to leave my homeland due to war and settle in a foreign country as well. I understand how Mahmud feels. I hope other businessmen will become involved as well and start helping asylum seekers better integrate in Latvia. This way Latvia creates an example for all of Europe,» – Gulami said.

Latvian Red Cross was present at the festive signing ceremony. «We have been providing asylum seekers with social assistant and social mentor services since April. It is good that businessmen have begun expressing interest in employing asylum seekers lately. We hope the signed agreement will transform into actual employment relations, which would serve as an example for Latvian businessmen and asylum seekers. I would like to extend gratitude to everyone who wishes to help. Cooperation between state and non-government institutions can help provide the necessary help more effectively,» – says Agnese Trofimova, head of Latvian Red Cross international and public relations programme.

The initiative demonstrated by W.E.E.S.A. in signing the employment agreement was also welcomed by Prof. Adris Denins of the University of Latvia (Economics and Management faculty). He said «the asylum seekers matter is highly important. I believe officials have yet to properly address it. I don’t think we should take the same approach employed by the European Union. We should instead come up with our own asylum seeker integration model. It is good that Mr. Zlavi respects our country’s culture and works hard to learn our country’s language. Respect toward Latvia is the condition that will help him create and develop a career here.»

Saeima deputy and member of the European Affairs Committee Valdis Kalnozols, on the other hand, was more critical in his opinion: «One the one hand, I have mixed feelings towards Europe’s employed asylum seeker programme. On the other hand, I don’t think a country’s borders should be closed. I value Candada’s policy, where each case is viewed separately. For example, Saeima deputy Hosam Abu Meri is a great example of how someone can integrate in society and create a successful career.»

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