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Russian schools won’t be built in Baltics without proper permission, says official

Jan 28, 2014
From wire reports, RIGA

Russian schools won't be opened in the Baltics without necessary permission, Russian Ambassador to Latvia Alexander Veshnyakov has said.

His comments come after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov admitted plans to build specialist Russian funded schools in the Baltics.

Some officials in the Baltics have branded the plans as "unacceptable."

Speaking to a news program, Veshnyakov said Russia wants to open up Sunday-school style education establishments, instead of full-time schools.

Veshnyakov added that he has meetings scheduled with the government's new ministers, including Education and Science Minister Ina Druviete, who he intends to meet with tomorrow.

''We will discuss this and other matters,'' the ambassador told the Latvijas Neatkariga televizija  news program 900 Seconds .

The ambassador also said that he intends to discuss with Druviete the government's commitment to have classes in all minority schools taught in the Latvian language by 2018. According to Veshnyakov, Latvia is not ready for such reforms, and minorities must be allowed to receive education in their native tongue.

Veshnyakov did not deny that Russia, similar to other countries, is implementing a ''soft power'' policy in Latvia, but he says that this is a ''positive'' policy.

As reported, Druviete said in an interview on Latvian Radio last week Russia will not be able to fulfill its intention of setting up Russian schools in Latvia, since it will not be able to receive all the required licenses and permits.

Latvia, being a European Union member state, decides its internal matters itself, which also concerns educational matters. Therefore Druviete doubts that Russia will be able to fulfill its plans while observing Latvian regulations.

"It is not a simple process. Licenses, curriculum and accreditation are required to establish an educational institution in Latvia. There are also other mandatory preconditions. In addition, those studying in such schools would experience difficulties during state exams, which are held in Latvian," said the minister.

Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (Reform Party), speaking through his press secretary, said that Moscow's idea cannot be supported, as he fails to see the necessity, and that the establishment of such schools is unacceptable.

Rinkevics explained that the establishment of such schools in Latvia is near impossible, since all educational institutions in Latvia must observe local regulations. Such schools can be set up with the help of intergovernmental agreements, but their usefulness is questionable, emphasized the minister.

Latvia is already funding 99 schools, where classes are being taught in seven minority languages. These schools have a single curriculum, facilitating social integration based on European values and Latvia's identity. Within this context, the establishment of schools based on different standards is questionable, explained Rinkevics.

Lithuania and Estonia have also expressed similar opinions.

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