COUNCIL OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS OF LATVIA
APPEAL OF THE COUNCIL OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS OF LATVIA* TO THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE, OSCE, THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, UNITED NATIONS AND THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
Let’s stop the formation of an ethnocratic state in Latvia!
On 9 October, 2017, the ruling coalition of Latvia has supported the proposal by the Ministry of Education and Science to teach all general subjects in national minority high schools in Latvian language only, starting from academic year 2020/2021.
We find this decision of the Latvian ruling coalition to run counter to the agreements reached in 2004-2005, after mass protests of Russian schools pupils against the dismantling of Russian-language schools. Besides, it also violates a Council of Europe treaty, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, ratified by Latvia in May, 2005. Moreover, this is one more step in implementing the policy of the ruling coalition – to build a so-called “Latvian Latvia”, or “Latvia for ethnic Latvians”, where national minorities should either be forcibly assimilated or thrown out of the country, if they dare to stand for their rights.
The formation of the state of Latvia as an ethnocratic (meaning that the rights of ethnic Latvians are put above rights of all other ethnicities of the country) state, after acquisition of independence in 1991, was pre-determined by the content of the Declaration “On the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia”, adopted by the Supreme Soviet of the Latvian SSR on May 4, 1990.
Representatives of the radical part of the Western Latvian exiles had hoped to restore an ethnocratic Latvia, based on examples from 1934-1940. On their initiative, statements on the de iure continuation of the Republic of Latvia from 1918 until 1990 and on the occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union from 1945 until 1990, although incompatible with international law provisions, have been included in the text of that Declaration. This has pre-determined: the creation of an undemocratic institute of mass statelessness; designation of Russian language as a “foreign” one; the policy of dismantling the Russian-language schools, which have existed since 1789; smearing the heroism of the Red Army which liberated Latvia from Nazism; smearing the times when Latvia had been part of the USSR, while re-habilitating politically and historically the ethnocratic political regime of Karlis Ulmanis of 1934-1940 and former Nazi collaborators from the time of German occupation of Latvia in 1941-1945.
Consecutive implementation, after 1991, of a policy of forming the state of Latvia as an ethnocratic one, has resulted, in the evaluation of the PACE of 8 November, 2002, in forming of a “long-term democratic deficit” in Latvia.
The European Parliament, supporting that conclusion, has pointed on 9 September, 2015, that the continuation of mass statelessness in certain European countries is a form of political discrimination.
Based on those conclusions by the PACE and the European Parliament, one should recognise that after 1993, when the first parliamentary elections in the Second Republic of Latvia took place without universal suffrage, not a single parliament and neither any local council has been elected in universal and democratic elections. This makes questionable the legitimacy of all Latvian authorities and their decisions taken from 1993 until now.
The preservation and further development of schools with Russian language of instruction and other national minority schools, ensured by law, can only be possible if the state of Latvia returns to the democratic way of development.
The necessary conditions thereof are:
- To abolish the mass statelessness, immediately and unconditionnally.
- After the abolition of mass statelessness, to conduct, without delay, the first universal elections since March 18, 1990, to local councils, national and European parliaments.
- To recognise the Declaration on Latvia’s Occupation of 22 August, 1996, the Declaration on Condemnation of the Totalitarian Communist Occupation Regime Implemented in Latvia by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of 12 May, 2005 (as far as it claims Latvia had been occupied by the USSR), and the Declaration on Latvian Legionnaires in World War II of 29 October, 1998, to be incompatible with international law provisions.
- To edit the text of the Declaration “On the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia”, by removing from it the statements on the de iure continuation of the Republic of Latvia from 1918 until 1990 and on the occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union from 1945 until 1990, as incompatible with international law provisions.
- To abolish the preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia.
- To launch elaborating of a new Constitution of the Republic of Latvia.
- To grant to of the Russian language an official status – that of a language of one of national minorities traditionally living in Latvia.
- To adopt a law on national-cultural autonomy of national minorities, which would:
— ensure preservation and further development of schools with Russian language of instruction and all schools of other national minorities. Create a Department of National Minority Schools under MES, with wide competence on preservation and development of national minority schools;
— ensure preservation and development of languages and cultures of the national minorities of the Republic of Latvia.
The issue today must be not only the immediate and unconditional return of international law supremacy and the democratic principle of forming the country’s political elite based on universal suffrage to the legal and political life of the Republic of Latvia. It must also concern staffing local authorities and state institutions based on professional experience and professional competence, not based on ethnicity, nepotism and corruption. The issue must also be the immediate and unconditional refusal from anti-Russian foreign policy and Russophobia in internal policies. Anti-Russian foreign policy and Russophobia have stalled the development of the country. It is necessary to restore friendly neighborly relations with the Russian Federation.
We believe, that in case the establishment of Latvia will refuse from returning the state of Latvia to the democratic way of development, the country might get to the brink of a deep civic conflict and even downfall of the state. Let us remember the prophetic words of a Latvian national poet Rainis: “Latvia can either be democratic, or it will not exist at all!”.
We appeal to the world community – the Council of Europe, OSCE, the European Parliament, UN and the Russian Federation – calling to support our demand to stop the development of the state of Latvia as an undemocratic and ethnocratic one.
Adopted on the meeting of the Council of Non-Governmental Organisations of Latvia on October 24, 2017.
* The Council of Non-Governmental Organisations of Latvia includes 84 non-governmental organisations.
Mailing address: Viktor Gushchin, co-ordinator of the Council of Non-Governmental Organisations of Latvia; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org