President calls on Saeima to make changes to the Labor Law in order to prevent discrimination against Latvians in the labor market

  • 2022-06-17
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Changes must be made to the Labor Law in order to prevent discrimination against Latvians in the labor market, President Egils Levits said while addressing Saeima today in its final sitting of the spring session.

Levits emphasized that Latvia has its own state language, which must be sufficient in all life and work situations. In the opinion of the President, employers must understand that Latvia is a national European country with a common state language.

"Only in exceptional cases should there be a requirement for knowledge of a foreign language in workplaces where it is objectively necessary, for example, if you have to work with foreign tourists or relevant foreign countries. This must be clearly regulated in the Labor Law. This should still be done by this Saeima," Levits said.

According to the President, perhaps the general requirement for knowledge of foreign languages could only apply to English, which is the main language of international communication today, but this should also be carefully considered.

Addressing MPs, Levits pointed out that Latvian society is open to anyone who wishes to integrate on the basis of the values enshrined in the Satversme. These values are the Latvian language as the only state language, the Latvian identity, Latvia as a national state, and Latvia's belonging to the Western democratic world.

"The choice to integrate on the basis of these values has been made by a large part of our minorities, including condemning the Russian aggression in Ukraine. They are all Latvian patriots and have no problems with the common state language or the Latvian character of our country," Levits said.

He also pointed out that some people whose mother tongue is Russian are now experiencing a kind of identity crisis. The moral authority of their historical cultural source, Russia, has been shattered, but they still have some difficulty in answering the basic question of who is to blame for the war and war crimes in Ukraine.

"We know that many Germans outside Germany suffered a similar experience after the Nazis came to power in 1933. The feeling that their country of origin has become criminal is not easy to accept. Maybe by talking to them, we can help them settle down a little and help them refigure their political and moral compass," said the president.

In Levits' opinion, several recent decisions of the Saeima, which envisages criminal liability for any glorification of Russia's imperialist ideology in the public sphere, as well as against the state of Latvia and its citizens, are correct. He emphasized that Latvia, as a democracy, does not impose its choice on anyone, but offers an opportunity to be a included in a modern, democratic, humane society.

"It is simply senseless to blame the failure of democratic Latvia to integrate convinced ''Putinists''. It is the choice of these people. They want to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities of a European state, but mentally continue to live in the world of Russia's aggressive imperialist ideology. They cannot be integrated unless they change this absurd position themselves," Levits said.

In his address, the President also emphasized that the decision to dismantle the "occupation monument" in Pardaugava marks a symbolic turning point - it draws a line on Russia's right to cultivate its imperialist ideological rituals in Latvia. Also, in Levits' view, the decision to ban Russian television propaganda channels is the right one, because anti-democratic propaganda does not fall within the scope of freedom of expression.