At the same time, respondents mention Latvia’s relations with Russia (32%), the government’s reforms in different sectors (28%), changes related to EU policies and decisions of European authorities (26%). Other events and developments are mentioned less often, according to the latest information from DNB Latvian Barometer.
Considering recent developments in the European Union – refugee crisis, rising threat of terrorist attacks and other major events – residents were asked about other factors related to internal and external security as part of the survey. According to results, residents believe refugees present the biggest threat to their everyday lives (32% of respondents mentioned this). 24% of respondents mentioned diseases and illegal immigrants (22%). 19% mentioned stress, exhaustion, unemployment and crime (18%). Other potential threats were mentioned less often. It should be added that 15% of respondents believe there will be no threats.
In regards to internal and external factors that could potentially threaten Latvia next year, the majority of respondents (53%) mentioned refugees and 32% – illegal immigrants. Respondents mentioned economic decline (23%), poor state administration (22%), demographic problems (20%) and terrorism (18%) as some of the most serious threats to the country. Other factors were mentioned les often.
Commenting on this data, MEP Artis Pabriks said: «Residents believe refugees could potentially present a serious threat to the country. Objectively speaking, there is no adequate reason behind residents’ fears over this situation, because 500 or 1,500 asylum seekers cannot possible threaten Latvia’s security, economy or identity. Illegal immigration can potentially create risks. As the term suggests – it is uncontrolled influx of people. What is clear now is that Europe’s current open borders policy and large inflow of migrants have left an impact on society in Latvia. Responses are more emotional than they are rationally justified.»
Arnis Kaktins, Director of SKDS Centre, notes: «Survey results state that the majority of Latvian residents have certain personal concerns in relation to the topic of refugees in Latvia – residents are afraid that their personal safety may be endangered by those people. It is known that the source of all fears is the lack of information. It is important to note here that the topic of refugees had first appeared in Latvia in summer. Our politicians have had plenty of time since then to calm down the population. Nevertheless, the level of fear and concerns shows that the situation in relation to the situation with refugees in Latvia has not calmed down.»
Laimdota Straujuma says: «Survey results confirm our country’s long-term development and gradual increase of the level of quality of life in Latvia. In order to achieve the main goal of the National Development Plan – an economic breakthrough, we have to overcome many challenges in the quality of life of the state, municipalities, households and every individual living in Latvia. We are the country – Latvia’s residents. By making everyday choices and working together, we can achieve a single goal – a strong and capable Latvia with happy people.»
When asked to try and predict how residents’ financial situation could change in 2016, 53% of respondents said their financial situation will not change. 19% said they may have more money next year. Only 9% of respondents said they expect having less money next year.