Task force offers plan of action for repatriation

Latvians who have left in search of work may be enticed back to the homeland by improving conditions in Latvia and by offering better communication with and about those living abroad, according to a plan of action outlined by the Secretariat of the Special Assignments Minister for Social Integration.

The plan, forwarded Aug. 23 to the Cabinet of Ministers, is the result of work by a task force that examined the problem of tens of thousands of Latvian residents who have left the country in recent years in search of work. Many have moved to Ireland, the United Kingdom and other Western European countries, especially after Latvia in 2004 joined the European Union.

“The task force that prepared the recommendations is offering activities that can be realized,” Oskars Kastēns, the integration minister, said in a press release. “By putting these in action, in my opinion, we could affect residents’ return to Latvia and create such conditions that would advance current Latvian residents’ desire to stay in the country.”

Government statistics show some 60,000 Latvian residents have left the country in recent years. This has already led to a labor shortage in Latvia. In the next 10 years, the secretariat’s action plan notes, up to 200,000 more economically active residents could leave.

A series of measures is called for in the secretariat’s plan, and among the main ones is offering dual citizenship to children born to Latvian citizens abroad, Kastēns said. Support for dual citizenship is overwhelming, according to a recent unscientific survey by the secretariat. Dual citizenship, which under current Latvian law is not allowed, could also be extended to the non-Latvian spouses of citizens.

The plan of action, which suggests specific tasks for a number of government ministries, would first have to be approved by the government.

The plan has two general directions, the secretariat announced. One focuses on improving the work and living conditions in Latvia that may have served as causes for residents leaving the country. The other aims at improving communication and education with the goal of motivating Latvians to return or to not leave in the first place.

Further, the plan details six areas of activities:

  • Monitoring: The government should update how it monitors the number of citizens who emigrate and return, should systematically research migration issues and should regularly exchange information about issues with Latvian nongovernmental organizations abroad.
  • Public-private partnerships: The government should foster development of small business initiatives on the local level, gather information about professions that will be in demand in the next five to 10 years, foster partnerships between business and education, and provide support for new business and agriculture operations.
  • Work environment: The government should help develop the work environment, offering support for employers who respect their workers, enacting controls to reduce under-the-table payments (known as aplokšņu algas), and stimulating the development of labor unions.
  • Information: The government should insure the broad availability of information about employment opportunities in Latvia, work to strengthen Latvian identity among those living abroad, encourage participation in Latvian politics, and encourage positive thinking among Latvians abroad about opportunities in and development of Latvia.
  • Social education: Recognizing that economic considerations are not the only reasons for emigration, the government should improve openness and tolerance in Latvia, improve understanding of the free flow of residents, inform people of the risks and consequenes of emigration, and stimulate patriotism and civic involvement.
  • Reducing barriers to repatriation: To foster repatriation, the government should allow dual citizenship for children and spouses of Latvian citizens abroad, develop the repatriation program, review the tax system with an eye to encourging return migration, and improve how Latvia’s education system corresponds to the education systems of other EU countires.

To complete the tasks outlined in the plan, the integration secretariat calls for government ministries and agencies to work with nongovernmental organizations, businesses, the Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia and the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia.

Members of the task force who worked on the action plan included Kastēns; Jānis Kukainis, chair of the World Federation of Free Latvians; Dace Līga Lutere–Timmele, chair of the European Latvian Association; Viesturs Tamužs, chair of the State and Private Partnerships Association; Normunds Ābols–Āboliņš, vice chair of the Latvian Association for Latvians in Ireland; Jānis Andersons, head of the Rīga office of the World Federation of Free Latvians; Iveta Ļubļina, assistant director of State Employment Agency, and others.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

One thought on “Task force offers plan of action for repatriation

  1. I was born in Germany of Latvian parents after WW2. My parents came to America to get away from the communist. They lived here until they died,not being able to return to their dear Latvia. Do these new requirements aid me in coming to Latvia?? Thank you Martins

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