Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 192

The Latvian parliament’s human rights commission yesterday examined and rejected a wide range of proposals to grant citizenship to certain categories of Soviet-era settlers. Russian groups in Latvia, together with the OSCE and other organizations, had all forwarded such proposals to the committee, while President Guntis Ulmanis had proposed automatic naturalization of children born to alien parents in Latvia since 1991. In response, deputies of the governing majority cited an agreement among their parties to rule out any changes to the law on citizenship. (Russian agencies, October 14)

That agreement forms one of the main elements holding the governing coalition together. Fatherland and Freedom, the party of Prime Minister Guntars Krasts, is particularly firm on this principle. Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs, of Latvia’s Way, has recently suggested that some West European leaders are asking Latvia to accelerate naturalization of its mainly Russian aliens as one of the conditions for the country’s admission to the European Union. Latvia is not being accused of human rights violations, but is being asked to improve relations with Russia by giving up certain legal criteria and requirements for naturalization. Moscow, in turn, has used such Western recommendations to support its own case against Latvia and Estonia.

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