«Even though Latvia protested against Europe’s proposed refugee quota system, ministers of Unity and the Union of Greens and Farmers made the decision to force Latvia to voluntarily resettle 250 refugees from North Africa. Now we basically follow the example set by other Baltic States by setting our country’s capacity and ability to resettle refugees. It would have been fine had the government been able to answer questions and justify its decision,» – notes Saeima deputy Rihards Kols.
Kols was among the 45 Saeima deputies who volunteered to sign the initiative to call an extraordinary Saeima meeting in regard to the refugee matter in Latvia. The initiative was launched following the government’s decision to resettle 250 refugees from North Africa. Saeima deputies who signed the aforementioned initiative hope to ask the Cabinet of Ministers to prepare and submit a detailed report to the Saeima in regard to the refugee matter in Latvia. On Thursday, 9 July, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma informed Kols that he will be dismissed from his post as parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister for adding his signature to this initiative.
«I believe the decisions that have been made in the refugee matter can significantly impact our country’s security and welfare, as well as our national position in the EU in a long-term perspective. Unfortunately, none of the supporters of resettlement of 250 refugees have managed to answer questions related to this topic – there is no certainty in regard to integration, infrastructure and financial aspects of this matter. We are not informed of the level of readiness of our security and social services and we have not yet even considered risks. We don’t even have an action plan. No one has told us the criteria of how we even got to the number 250.
After turning to different institutions and speaking personally with government representatives, all we have received is a limping search for answers, mentioning of solidarity and the coalition agreement, principles of voluntary involvement and other words. It seems the government itself does not understand the criteria of its own decision. If we look to what Rihards Kozlovskis has said, the 250 appeared based on the so-called Luxembourg formula – the calculation that is planned to be used when introducing the quota system. Now the government basically plans to complete the quota system, which is a clear violation of the government’s previously established national position,» – explains Kols.
«The government has made a decision justification for which it tries to find and pull by its ears up only after society noticed how absurd and irresponsible it is. Attempts to stop a completely adequate and reasonable initiative by Saeima deputies is not only absurd, but also demonstrates the desire to push through certain decisions, hiding them behind alleged position of the majority in the government. What happened at the extraordinary Saeima meeting shows this as well – due to the lack of quorum, the meeting never took place. It is a clear political farce aimed to avoid providing explanations to the parliament and society,» – said Kols.
«The Prime Minister’s proposed alternative to my dismissal – taking on personal responsibility for the coordination of the refugee pattern including matters of integration and language – brings back a small smile. I am only surprised how quickly decisions can be made in the country and how easily now posts and administrative resources can be allocated to sustain a post of a ‘coordinator’ – something no one has ever heard before the Thursday meeting,» – said Kols.
«I would like to thank Laimdota Straujuma for her cooperation up until now. Unfortunately, the end of our work relations is accompanied by a feeling of disappointment – in regard to the loss of any form of correct, legally justified and purely human attitude and ethical method of resolving matters and in regard to certain made-up reports compiled by the Prime Minister’s press-service,» – said Kols in his report to the media.