Citizens advice bureau "Conscentia", Latvia, www.tuvari.com
Statement on UN 5th Forum on minority issues
Practical use of the Declaration: identification of good practices and positive measures in Latvia.
Good practices from minority perspective, implemented by themselves. It means active role of minority groups in promoting principles of the Declaration, diversity, universal human dignity and multiculturalism. I represent Russian minority in Latvia, member state of EU. Unfortunately relationships between two big communities - Latvian ethnic and Russian linguistic group - became a struggle for or against dominance of Latvian restrictive ethnical nationalism. Nevertheless Russian language is 5-6 widespread language in the European Union and mother tongue for 40% Latvian population. In this circumstances we see the role of minority organisations and advocates in Latvia as follows:
- 1) dialogue within minority community concerning selfidentification in current historical and political circumstances. To resist the marginalization and to escape the assimilation agenda proposed by official authorities.
- 2) dialogue with national authorities and political bodies insisting the right on effective participation in political life and decision making, especially addressing problem of long term non-citizens
- 3) cooperation with international organisations elaborating common standards and recommendations.
I would like to share experience of participating in referendum on symbolic issue of second state language in February this year. Referendum campaign aimed awareness raising and equal dialogue about cultural, educational and linguistic rights between majority and minority, and not second state language as such. It is to mention that 14% of permanent inhabitants are long-term non-citizens. Because of domination discourse already mentioned the referendum was interpreted by officials as a threat for public order and no dialogue was achieved. Therefore it is still important to raise awareness that promotion and protection of the rights of persons belonging to minorities contribute to the political and social stability of States in which they live, and as such do not threats public order.