MYPLACE researcher Liga Rudzite from our Latvian team on the recent protests against new legislation to move towards the replacement of the Latvian Lat with the Euro.
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On 31st of January the Parliament of Latvia – Saeima – voted on the Law on Euro that will regulate the process of introduction of Euro replacing the current currency of the country – Lat. On the morning of the vote the Members of Saeima were met by a protest action organized in front of the Parliament building by an NGO “Antiglobalsists” gathering around 70 people expressing their discontent with the vote they were about to cast.
At the end of 2012 the Prime minister of Latvia Valdis Dombrovskis suggested that Latvia is now ready to introduce Euro and this should happen from the 1st of January 2014
. This caused public debates on whether Latvia is ready for that and whether the population of Latvia would support the decision.
Several NGO’s gathered together at the beginning if this year to start a campaign against Euro in Latvia – “Euro – No!”. The main activities of the campaign so far included initiating discussions in news portals, voicing opinions wherever possible, sending out information and inviting people to join the cause via chain e-mails and letters, and on social networks. An open letter was also written to the Prime minister and the Parliament asking them to postpone the introduction of Euro and to organize a referendum on the question.
Even though joining the Eurozone was part of the Agreement on joining European Union, thus also a part of the referendum for joining the EU, campaigners say that this question should be voted on in a separate referendum, as not all countries of EU have joined the Eurozone and only 48% of the population voted for joining the EU anyway.
Campaigners have also started an initiative on an online participation platform manabalss.lv (my voice) to make Government return to the question of Euro and postpone the change of currency. So far this initiative has collected just over 7000 signatures out of 10000 necessary for the motion to go to Government. Public polls show that about 57% of the population are against the introduction of Euro in 2014.
In order to keep Lat as the national currency activists of “Euro – No!” campaign have established an NGO “Latvia for Lat!” planning to gather and involve all people and organizations that are against introduction of Euro and to organize a referendum on the question. The protest action was the first visible public activity of the NGO and it was followed by a conference “Why we do not need Euro? Why should we keep Lat?” and a press conference on the activities of the NGO and the campaign.
Invitations to join the protest action were spread through social networks and the official message from the official organizers “Antiglobalists” said that “On this day the members of Parliament are planning to destroy the national currency Lat, and similar to the 1940 to adopt currency that we will have no control over. This time it will be Euro instead of Rubles.”
As mentioned before about 70 people took part in the protest action. The action slogans called for saying no to Euro and getting rid of slaves of Brussels, as well as stated that “We will have only those rights that we will be able to fight and win for!” and “The more we will protest, the better we will live!”
Even though the Parliament managed to pass the law with a slight majority of votes (52 in favor, 40 against), “Euro – No!” campaigners seem to be organizing a protest movement that should be taken seriously by the Government.
And here is a YouTube video from the protest: