Statement on Latvia Joining the euro zone from Normunds Grostins, Latvian board member of TEAM: the European Alliance of EU-Critical Movements. Following the quotes in blue below, I make some observations (in black):
“Tue, 31/12/2013 – 17:04 — Luise
To join Euro zone, Latvia had to go through dramatic austerity policy. It has catastrophic effects. For example, Buildings Control State Inspection was abolished to save some money. As result, in December supermarket building collapsed in Riga, killing 54 people.
Now Latvia has minimal state pension 70 euro per month, and average monthly income well under 500 euro. But Latvia with its 2 million population is going to pay hundreds of millions euro and guarantee almost 3 billion euro for Euro Stability Mechanism.
Introduction of euro in Latvia at all stages was done without referendum and against will of people. All independent polls clearly show that majority of Latvia’s population doesn’t want abolish national currency in favor of euro. Issue of leaving Euro zone will be on Latvia’s political agenda during European and national elections at 2014.”
This is worrying as it is clear that the Latvian Government is prepared to do almost anything to put the EU between it and Russia. The reason for this is blindingly apparent. See the Wikipedia item Russians in the Baltic States. Latvia is the home of the largest proportion of Russian residents among the three Baltic States, accounting for over half of all Russians in the three states.
“As of 2011, there are 1,052,520 ethnic Russians in the Baltic States (Latvia 556,422, Estonia 321,198, Lithuania 174,900), having declined from 1,726,000 in 1989.”
The Wikipedia item further down the page goes into these statistics in more detail:
“Russians make up almost a half of the population of Riga, the capital of Latvia. In the second largest city Daugavpils, where already before World War I Russians were the second biggest ethnic group after Jews, Russians now make up the majority. Today about 27.6% of Latvia’s population are ethnic Russians.”
The large influence of Swedish banks in Latvia makes this highly problematic for Sweden. As a permanent resident of Sweden I find this worrying. See the earlier post The Swedish bank crises of 1992 and 2008+ . If there is one thing we should have learned by now it is that ex-Warsaw Pact members of the EU are very vulnerable to the boom-slump crises of the new laissez-faire. The section of the Wikipedia item on Latvia is worth reading in its entirety: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russians_in_the_Baltic_states#Citizenship. My sense of the situation is that the Russian population is older and poorer than the average. Those who could get work had already emigrated to Russia or an EU country.