Public opinion in Latvia: the greatest challenge for Europe is migration, while social inequality is an issue in Latvia

On Monday, 15 February, a press conference was held at the Riga Graduate School of Law (RGSL) during which the results of the survey on public opinion “The impact of global crisis in Europe and Latvia” by RGSL and Marketing and Public Opinion Research Centre were presented. Not only did this event highlight data on the public opinion of Latvia regarding global crises issues, it also touched upon the news on the prestigious Annual Conference of the European Society of International Law (ESIL) that will be held in Riga in September.

The survey results show that respondents of Latvia of all demographic groups list the migration crisis and EU border management (63.2%), terrorism (53.6%), war and political instability (51.2%) as the most significant threats to the European Union, which reflects the current themes discussed in the media as well as the historical memory of participants of the survey. The results for the same question regarding threats to Latvia differ; respondents think that the main challenges for Latvia are poverty and social inequality (52.3%), financial and economic crisis (44.1%), the migration crisis and EU border management (43.8%). Such an opinion proves that the problems of poverty and social inequality are so sensitive that they leave behind more global issues that are set as priority to the EU.

Ineta Ziemele, Professor of RGSL, Judge of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia, explained the theoretical and practical aspects of global crisis, from the viewpoint of the opinions of respondents of Latvia expressed in the survey. “The Riga Conference is being prepared at a time when international law issues have become more topical than ever before. Recent developments vividly illuminate different aspects of the international crisis - a threat to the territorial integrity, use of modern technologies, information war, thus creating new shapes of hybrid war, financial market difficulties of the world, European and national markets, an unprecedented flow of immigrants in Europe and the different approaches to address them. Results of the survey show, that the majority of participants of the survey are optimistic regarding the role of the international organisations, and believe that there is a possibility to solve the global crisis in the framework of the international and European law,” Ineta Ziemele remarked.

The results show that 15.1% of the respondents believe that it is possible to solve the global crisis by reaching a common agreement between the countries of the world; however, 51.8% doubt that such an agreement could be reached and 20.9% do not believe that it could be possible. It is interesting that only 2% of the surveyed participants are sure that some general principles of solving global crises to which the countries adhere exist. In contrast, 52% of the respondents are sure that such principles exist; however, they are not sure that countries adhere to them. Kristīne Krūma, Pro-rector of RGSL remarked that the international law authorities play the most important part in solving global crisis yet it cannot be claimed that their decisions and actions are always efficient.

At the closing part of the press conference the Deputy State Secretary on Strategies of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Latvia Inguss Kalniņš outlined the need for an international dialogue —especially among practitioners and theoreticians of law — to ensure that the innovative solutions are found, and predictions on the forthcoming challenges are made."

This year more than 400 most esteemed European and international researchers, lawyers, judges and other experts will discuss the questions related to the topic of How International Law Works in Times of Crisis at the Annual Conference of the European Society of International Law that will take place on 8 - 10 September in Riga at the National Library of Latvia. The conference is organized by Riga Graduate School of Law and the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia with the support from the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia. The registration for the conference is now open and professionals and experts of international law are invited to apply.

More information on the agenda of ESIL conference in Riga is available at the webpage.

Opinion poll