RIGA – The human rights committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, meeting in Edinburgh on Wednesday, urged Latvia to grant the right to vote in municipal elections to noncitizens and ratify the convention on protection of national minorities.
The resolution, which had been submitted by Russia, was passed despite resistance from the Latvian delegation.
The resolution, titled "On National Minorities," was passed by majority vote and was supported by countries such as Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.
Still, it was largely thanks to Krisjanis Peters, the Latvian delegation's head, that the names of Latvia and Estonia were removed from the title of the resolution.
"If the resolution was passed in its initial version, Latvia's image would be harmed much more," said Peters, He explained that the document mentions Latvia twice in general concepts and twice very specifically, urging the Baltic country to grant municipal election rights to non-citizens and ratify the minorities' convention.
He also said that Estonia was criticized less in the document, as non-citizens cay vote there and the minorities convention has been ratified. It is for this reason that the Estonian delegation was particularly angered by the resolution and promised to fight it from being approved at the closing of the Parliamentary Assembly on Friday.
Curiously, prior to the committee meeting members were given an anonymous 8-page document on the poor condition of minorities in Latvia, said Peters.
He said he believed the document was prepared by Russia. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Latvian laws on human rights are compatible with international stands and have been repeatedly approved by the U.N., the OSCE and the Council of Europe.