Council of Europe evaluates Latvia's national minority protection policy

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Council of Europe's Committee of  Ministers issued a resolution March 3 regarding Latvia's policy of national minority protection.

The document (available to read here) noted a number of positive developments in this regard, such as support to national minority cultural space, a diverse media environment, as well as support for national minority educational programs through continued state funding. The resolution also mentions that great effort has been made to teach the Latvian language to minority representatives.

Regarding issues of concern, it is stated that the society is not cohesive enough and does not share the same socio-linguistic environment, as "society in Latvia continues to struggle with the consequences of past divisions, with the principal national groups – the Latvian majority and the Russian minority – holding different geopolitical viewpoints and cultural identities". 

Another issue of  concern is the requirement that if someone wished to change their ethnicity record to Latvian, they must prove the highest level of fluency of the language; also the labor market requires a high level of Latvian language proficiency, which "impedes the possibility of non-native speakers (..) to access positions in the public service".

The Council raised the issue about discrimination against the Roma and insufficient opportunities to learn the Romani language.

Latvia has been offered several recommendations in order to ensure national minority rights in a more effective way, including encouragement to continue the integration policy, promote participation of national minorities in social life, work to prevent discrimination against the Roma, improve educational opportunities for young Roma, and other recommendations of an advisory nature.

According to the Foreign Ministry's release March 3, the overall evaluation by the Council of Europe of Latvia’s policy for society integration is positive.



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