MEPs miffed at Zdanoka's ploy

  • 2004-07-22
  • From wire reports
RIGA - In response to Latvian MEP Tatjana Zdanoka's inviting a large group of youngsters from the Baltic state to protest in Strasbourg on July 20 against the country's minority education reform, the country's remaining eight MEPs said they planned to issue a joint statement on July 21 explaining the education reform and the true situation in Latvia.

MEP Girts Valdis Kristovskis of the right-wing Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK party said that the joint statement would be issued to express a common stance on the 50-year Soviet occupation of Latvia and the "consequences, which is the reason why the education reform must be carried out in order to consolidate the country's society."
"We are turning against attempts at discrediting our country," said Kristovskis.
Fellow MEP Inese Vaidere also said that Zdanoka was trying to "attack everything that is Latvian, including the Latvian language and carry on the Russification process of the country," the Leta news agency reported.
Former Foreign Minister Rihards Piks, now member of the Europarliament, said that Zdanoka was trying to "carry out and fortify Soviet colonial practices."
MEP Aldis Kuskis said that the joint statement will explain "historical truths" and the "general stance held by Latvian political forces" regarding the education reform.
Kuskis added that the statement would in no way be an attempt at supporting the "circus" organized by MEP Zdanoka on July 20, when she organized a visit to Strasbourg for 40 people from Latvia, including Russian school kids, their parents and other education reform protest supporters, the Baltic News Service reported.
He also explained that various rallies and protests in Strasbourg happen almost every day.
The eight Latvian predominantly right-wing MEPs have previously announced intentions to work toward an international condemnation of communist crimes.
The education reform is set to gradually raise the amount of lessons taught in the Latvian language at minority high schools, thus boosting the competitiveness of minorities and promoting social integration. Left-wing political forces backed mainly by the ethnic Russian electorate argue that the reform is an abuse of human rights.