In Europe - East

TASS, March 26, 2015

Latvia is home to more than 2 million people including around 320,000 non-citizens

MOSCOW–Alexander Gaponenko, the head of the Latvian non-citizens’ public organization, the Parliament of Unrepresented,  said today he has asked Russia’s lower house of parliament to provide the organization with judicial support.

Non citizen document of Latvian resident, photo by Vladimir Starkov , ITAR-TASS

Non citizen document of Latvian resident, photo by Vladimir Starkov , ITAR-TASS

“We need help in the fight in judicial authorities. We can make noise and shout, but we need judicial assistance,” Gaponenko told a roundtable at the State Duma on the problem of non-citizens in Latvia and Estonia. “We would accept your help with pleasure,” Gaponenko told the head of the State Duma foreign affairs committee, Alexey Pushkov.

The Parliament of Unrepresented was established in Latvia by a human rights movement, the Congress of non-citizens, following the 2013 elections as a body representing the interests of mostly Russian-speaking population in the judicial, political and economic spheres of the republic.

One of the movement’s activists, Elizaveta Krivtsova, said earlier in an interview with TASS “our main goal is that the institute of mass non-citizenship in Latvia should be eliminated by any legal means.”

One of the first steps of the Parliament of Unrepresented was to send a request to the UN leadership on the assistance in regulating the problems of mass non-citizenship in Latvia.

Latvia is home to more than 2 million people including around 320,000 non-citizens. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, these citizens were deprived of the majority of political, social and economic rights. Latvia’s parliament continues rejecting the attempts of the Russian-speaking opposition to change the situation over non-citizenship.

Read also:
Suggested requirement to speak Latvian at work split society, says Russia’s foreign ministry, TASS, Jan 24, 2015

Latvia wants normal good-neighbourly relations with Russia – Latvian PM, TASS, January 6, 2015. Full text:

RIGA–Latvia, which presides in the European Union Council in the first six months of 2015, want to build normal good-neighbourly relations with Russia, Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma said on Tuesday. “We are a presiding country, which needs to maintain dialogue with Russia on behalf of Europe,” she said in an interview with the Latvian television.

“I would hate to say that now (over Latvia’s presidency in the Council of the European Union – TASS) we expect possible provocations from Russia. We expect to have normal neighbourly relations with Russia.

Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics this week will go to Moscow to meet with the Russian foreign minister and members of the Russian-Latvian intergovernmental commission to discuss economic issues. I think it is important for Europe and for the entire world to have good-neighbourly relations and avoid conflicts,” she said.

When asked whether Latvian President Andris Berzins should attend celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the victory in WWII on May 9 in Moscow, Straujuma said this issue required a consolidated position of the entire European Union. “Everything will depend on the relations with Russia. Tomorrow, I will meet with the president and we will discuss this matter. But it is up to the president to take the final decision. Of course, we should take into account the general situation. Probably, the European Union will be represented there,” she said.

Meanwhile, Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics called on member countries of the European Union to adopt a common position concerning participation in VE-day celebrations in Moscow. “The European Union should have a much more consolidated position,” he said. “It is beyond Latvia’s competence as a country presiding in the European Union to forge such consolidated opinion. In this sense, we are a kind of number two. But in any case, there will be occasions to discuss this situation over May 9 with European Union leaders both during their visits and on the sidelines of consultations with other European Union member states.”

“No decisions are to be expected this week. This is not the most central issue among the variety of problems we are to solve, starting from the situation in Ukraine, Greece, and so on,” Rinkevics said. “At a meeting of the European Union’s council foreign affairs on January 19, I will tell my colleagues that it would be wise to have a more consolidated position on such matters.”

Along with that, the Latvian foreign minister said he thought the refusal of some heads of state to attend the VE-day celebrations in Moscow on May 9 was “rather sad, since such issues have symbolic meaning in the context of both recent and historic events.”

At the end of 2014, President of neighbouring Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite said she was not planning to attend the festivities on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the victory in WWII in Moscow. Estonia’s President Toomas Hendrik Ilves voiced a similar position last week.

Background:
Russians in the Baltic states, in Wikipedia

Background in New Cold War.org:
Minority government in Estonia following March 2, 2015 election 

Lithuania to adopt euro amidst concerns about emigration, Dec. 31, 2014

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