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My 350 on BREXIT: Fighting for youthful minds in Latvia

"The British example should be a lesson for all of Europe  -  to remain united and at the same time not to lose its national identities."

Adomas Abromaitis
7 July 2016

The most disappointing consequence of Brexit for foreigners living in the UK has become the unexpected rise of xenophobia. According to the behavior of locals, the EU open door policy has completely failed. Brits have made it clear that foreigners are not welcome. Not only immigrants from conflict areas, but people from Poland and Baltic States face insults or even physical violence, hear offensive words and the call to pack their bags and leave.

This situation has become possible mainly due to inconsistency of domestic and foreign policy. Britain's activity in the EU was often contrary to the national interests and population's needs. The government chose to ignore the discontent of the population. Locals became more and more irritated by the arrival of cheap labor from eastern Europe and the financial costs associated with the provision of assistance to other countries even in the sphere of security and defence. While helping others, Britain did not pay enough attention to its own troubles. Such policy has led to cases of hatred directed against foreigners that are unacceptable for any democratic country. Hidden evils in society were afforded an excellent opportunity to emerge.

Such cases should be a lesson and serve as a prerequisite for the review of foreign policy carried out by other EU countries such as Latvia. Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed regret at Great Britain's desire to leave the European Union. The fact is the EU exists because member states obey common rules and obligations. Any exception leads to a disruption of  unctioning. Rinkēvičs understands that Latvia as well as the EU itself will face additional problems with financing, immigration, security and defence. In spite of increasing defence spending, today Latvia is less sure of its own security than it once was.

In the Baltic States there are also certain concerns of a possible rise of discontent inside their countries. Latvian nationalism could rear its head even higher. Latvia is often criticized for manifestations of fascism. According to a study conducted by the National Defence Academy of Latvia's Center for Security and Strategic Research, which hit the light of day on Monday, about 30 per cent of Latvians agree that fascism is awakening in Latvia. Riga invites in foreign troops and makes their deployment comfortable. But the government does nothing to stop young Latvians from leaving their home country or make their lives better.

Latvian ultranationalists will for sure exploit the situation in Britain by attracting new members to join ultra-nationalist organizations and movements. Youth is their main target. So following the instructions of the EU and NATO without taking into consideration the true national interests and the domestic situation may cause a flowering of extremism and ultra-nationalism in Latvia. One illustrative case occurred in Latvia on July 4, 2016. Three young men were detained in Riga for desecrating the national flag.

Young men who do not respect their own country are the worst thing government can achieve. We are just in time to think over the situation in the country and draw the right conclusions from Brexit in order not to lose the younger generation. It is time to fight for their minds, so that they make the right political decisions, and not to set common international organizations' priorities ahead of national. The British example should be a lesson for all of Europe  -  to remain united and at the same time not to lose its national identities.

In the aftermath of the historic British vote to leave the EU, openDemocracy is asking for our readers' thoughts on Brexit and what needs to happen next in 350 words. We've had an extraordinary response and you can read them all here.

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