Foreign Ministry hosts diaspora meeting

From 26 through 28 September 2018 the annual Board of the World Federation of Free Latvians convenes in Rīga for its annual meeting.

By tradition, the diaspora working group gathers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a warm-up meeting the day before to provide representatives from diaspora organisations with an opportunity to engage with officials on diaspora issues.

Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, informed the audience about the process of adoption of the Diaspora Law and expressed appreciation of the close cooperation with diaspora organisations worldwide during the drafting. The draft law lays down practical support measures for the acquisition of the Latvian language and upholding traditions outside Latvia, cooperation in economy and science, attracting diaspora experts from various walks of life to Latvia, and stimulating civic and political activity, including support for the work of diaspora organisations.

The law also provides for practical assistance and removal of bureaucratic hurdles concerning those who wish to return to Latvia. In its meeting on 26 September, the Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to finalise the work of preparing the draft for the second reading.

Linda Karlina, Deputy Director of the State Cultural Capital Foundation, presented the opportunities offered by the foundation to the diaspora. 

One of the main discussion topics at the meeting was the opportunity for the diaspora children and young people to learn Latvian at summer camps. Representatives from the Latvian children’s camp of Garezers in the USA, shared their experience of the past summer at the largest summer camp for kids in North America. Sarmīte Miltiņa from the University of Latvia presented the programme of the university’s Latvian Language and Culture School. Aira Priedīte, a representative from the European Latvian Association, provided information on camps in Europe.  

Those present agreed that contacts should be established between secondary schools abroad and in Latvia to ensure that young people of various age groups and language proficiency levels could continue their studies, since the knowledge of Latvian is one of the mainstays for sustaining a link with Latvia.

In conclusion, Gunta Līdaka, member of the Board of the National Electronic Mass Media Council, briefed the audience about the budget allocations planned in support of the diaspora-related media content next year.

The meeting was chaired by Atis Sjanīts, Ambassador-at-Large for the Diaspora at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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