Saeima endorses Diaspora Bill

The Latvian parliament on May 24 endorsed the Diaspora Bill, which has been drawn up in order to help the Latvians residing in foreign countries strengthen their Latvian identity and sense of belonging to Latvia and maintain active and mutual cooperation with their native county.

Rihards Kols (National Alliance), who headed the Foreign Affairs Committee’s workgroup in charge of drafting the bill, said that the Latvian diaspora in foreign countries, which relative to the population is one of the largest Europe, is an unalienable part of the Latvian state, culture and identity.

“While until now political rhetoric often described our diaspora as a resource, now, with the drafting of the Diaspora Bill, the state defines the diaspora as a true and unchangeable value,” Kols said.

The politician indicated that the workgroup has managed to stipulate in the draft legislation that cooperation with and providing support to the diaspora is a duty of the Latvian state.

“With the Diaspora Law we intend to provide our expatriates living in foreign countries the opportunity to strengthen their Latvian identity, sense of belonging to Latvia, as well as to develop effective and mutual cooperation with Latvia. The new law stipulates a strategic resolve of the Latvian state to provide support for the maintenance of Latvian identity and language, accessibility of Latvian education and culture,” the head of the workgroup said.

The draft legislation also provides for concrete measures intended to promote remigration and support those emigrants who want to return to Latvia.

The bill has been drafted with the participation of around 30 representatives of Saeima, ministries, institutions, diaspora organizations and nongovernmental groups.

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