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Statement by Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation Tatiana Moskalkova on the Decision of the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia

26 February 2018
Statement by Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation Tatiana Moskalkova on the Decision of the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia

I express my extreme concern over the initiative brought forward by the commission of the Saeima and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia to introduce Latvian as the language of instruction in all schools of national minorities. The initiative received support on the part of the members of the Latvian parliament, which created condition for violation of national minorities’ cultural and linguistic rights.

It is worth mentioning that the committee of the Saeima had rejected a petition by more than 14.000 residents of the country to retain and continue the present system of bilingual education at schools of national minorities.

It is truly incredible that this can occur in Europe, twenty-first century, in the country which is a member-state of all main international organizations for the protection of human rights, including the linguistic and cultural rights of national minorities.

It is particularly cynical that the decision, which violates that rights of the Russian-speaking community of Latvia, is taken in the same year as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose Article 26 stipulates that education shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, celebrates seventy years after its adoption.

I believe it cannot be accepted that Russian-speaking residents of Latvia, who constitute up to 40 percent of the country’s population, to be discriminated on the ground of linguistic origin.

I wish to recall that on joining the OSCE, Latvia made commitment to view human rights as a universal value. Furthermore, the Council of the European Union reiterated that by signing the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms all member-states, including Latvia, make commitment to fight against discrimination in all its forms, while chapter 3 of the Charter directly calls on respect for linguistic diversity and states that any discrimination based on any ground such as ethnic origin and language shall be prohibited.

I firmly believe that a solution to the problem could be found only based on consensus and respect for universally recognized human rights and freedoms using modern European conflict-settlement practice for multinational countries.

I urge the international organizations such as the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe, and the European Union to take measures to prevent the establishment of the regime of cultural apartheid and protect the rights of residents on the territory of Latvia.

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