Ministry stung by EU wording

  • 2007-11-26
  • By Mike Collier
RIGA -- Latvia's Foreign Ministry has taken the unusual step of issuing a press release that strongly criticises a key European institution.

On 19 November, in Strasbourg, the Bureau of the Congress of Localand Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe made a decision tosend a mission to familiarise itself with thesituation in Latvia.

But the wording of the announcement has clearly riled the Foreign Ministry. "In the press release by the Congress Bureau, it is mentioned that itmade its decision on the need to visit to Latvia on the grounds of anallegedly existing EU report, in which an attempt is made to claim thatLatvia has the worst integration policy among the member states of theunion," the Ministry statement reads.

"Latvia, as other EU member states, is a democratic and open statewith high standards in the protection of universal human rights. TheForeign Ministry is not aware of any facts which could serve as groundsfor such claims that the integration policy implemented in Latvia wouldbe unacceptable. On the contrary - it is our contention that theintegration policy presently in force in Latvia is one of the mostsuccessful in the EU, and for this very reason Latvia has managed toavoid numerous problems, related to social integration and immigration,that are visible in other European states.

"The Foreign Ministry deems it important that the representatives ofthe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europeshould finally come to Latvia and acquaint themselves with the realsituation. The EU report mentioned in the press release by the CongressBureau is in fact a study by a group of independent experts. Duringtheir visit, the representatives of the Congress will have theopportunity to verify that many of the claims presented in the reportare at quite a considerable distance from the reality in present-dayLatvia."

The Council of Europe seems to possess an unusual talent for provoking anger in the Baltic states. A recent visit to Estonia by the organization's president, Rene Van der Linden, caused a storm of protest and sharp words between Van der Linden and various Estonian politicians.