President critical of language aspect of emergency law for Ukrainian refugees

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Latvian President Egils Levits on June 22 issued an opinion on the Law “Amendments to the Law on the Support of Civilians of Ukraine” adopted by the Saeima on 16 June 2022, criticising some aspects of its contents while praising the speed with which it was adopted.

According to a statement from the Presidential Chancellery, the law on the support of the civilian population of Ukraine was initially adopted in order to provide assistance to Ukrainian citizens and their family members who left Ukraine or who cannot return to Ukraine due to the Russia-waged war.

"I appreciate the performance of the Public Affairs and Human Rights Commission of the Saeima so far in this term and the ability to deal with very complex legislative issues; unfortunately, this time it is not an example of good legislative work," the President said.

Levits said that in his view the current regulation on the adaptation of content in minority languages ​​creates uncertainty as to which minority languages ​​will be adapted. The President also states that with the war waged by Russia in Ukraine, it is unacceptable for information important to the Ukrainian civilian population in Latvia to be passed on in Russian.

“If the aim of the legislator, when adopting the law, has been to promote the Latvian language skills of the Latvian minority population in this way, then such regulation, by its meaning and content, has no place in the law addressing the provision of support to Ukrainian civilians. [..,] It is not correct, under the guise of providing support to the civilian population of Ukraine, to include in the law regulation with completely different goals and purposes,” the President points out.

The President also said that the Public Electronic Media Council (SEPLP) is the competent authority for the application of the legal amendments dealing with the provision of information in minority languages and laws, the President calls on the SEPLP to ensure that  the laws are “meaningfully and in accordance with the basic principles set out in the Constitution and Latvia’s strategic national interests in maintaining a high-quality information space, including without reducing the diversity of content created by electronic media”.

However, despite his reservations the law will be promulgated as planned and come into force on June 30.

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