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    RUSSIA: LATVIA OPPOSES GENERAL TRENDS IN EUROPEAN LAW

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    MOSCOW, January 23rd, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - The decision of the Latvian Sejmas (parliament) that teaching in senior classes of Russian-speaking schools should be conducted in the Latvian language confirms is in conflict with the general trend in the European law development seeking to expand ethnic minorities' opportunities of using their native language. Spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko said on Friday.

    Unfortunately, Latvian parliamentarians have shunned the appeals of international organisations to be flexible in the education sphere, and to take into consideration today's reality and the recommendations proceeding from European standards of ethnic minorities' right to receive education in their mother tongue, Yakovenko stressed.

    Apparently, Latvia's lawmaking in regard to ethnic minorities is at loggerheads with the internationally acknowledged democratic practice of working out crucial decisions after consultations with the minorities'. In the school reform, political and public organisations representing the Russian speaking community in the country have been seeking such a dialogue but to no avail.

    Yakovenko also stressed that the reaction of the Russian speaking population of Latvia to this decision was fairly predictable. In essence, the Latvian parliament has opted for a tough unilateral approach to such a sensitive issue in the relations between the two language communities of the republic. (This decision of the Sejmas gave rise to a series of mass protests of the Russian speaking population in Latvia.)

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