RIGA - Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis said on Wednesday that Latvia should ratify the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities but with reservations on use of the state language on street signs and in municipal administrative authorities.
Ever since President Vaira Vike-Freiberga told a Council of Europe official that Latvia would work on ratifying the convention, public debate on the document, which the country has refused to ratify for 10 years, has been animated.
Kalvitis told the Neatkariga daily that ratification of the convention would prevent Russia from directing further accusations against Latvia over alleged violations of human rights. "Politicians exaggerate danger from ratification of this convention. Lithuania and Estonia have done it, and no problems occurred," he said.
The prime minister pointed out that international pressure to sign the document was often unbearable.
"At many international meetings we have to hear comments like this: why can't you ratify the convention if you have signed it," said Kalvitis.
He said that "we will adhere to the national course strictly" and "the definition of minorities will apply to those who lived in Latvia until June 1940 and their descendants, but not to immigrants."
He said other reservations would require that street signs be only in Latvian and that municipal authorities use state language exclusively "providing interpreting, when necessary." He said that "this is the way things work now, and basically we are in compliance with the convention."
In May this year Parliament turned down the convention that was submitted for ratification by the left-wing party For Human Rights in a United Latvia.