EU expansion does not guarantee termination of discrimination of Russian speakers in Baltic states

The forthcoming expansion of the European Union to the Baltic states does not guarantee that Russian speakers and other ethnic minorities living there will no longer be discriminated against, since such discrimination exists in EU member countries at present as well. This is the conclusion made in the investigation published on Monday by the "Open Society" Institute. The two-volume work of lawyers and sociologists expands on the discrimination of the Gipsy minority in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, and of the Russian speakers in Latvia and Estonia. The second volume is devoted to the discrimination of Moslems and Gipsies in France, Germany and a number of other EU countries.

The preparation of Central and East European states to join the EU made their governments pay attention to the position of ethnic minorities and adopt programmes for improving the life of Gipsies and making easier the integration of the Russian-speaking population. But these programmes are not being fulfilled to the end, they are often included as secondary ones into other state programmes and thus are being set off and implemented according to the low-priority principle.

The European Union, according to the authors of the investigation, is itself not ready for expansion at least because it cannot ensure efficient policy in respect to ethnic minorities and fully realise the declared principles of equality.

In a number of EU countries there exists prejudice towards Moslems and Gipsies, especially in the sphere of employment and access to social funds.

No matter how paradoxical it may seem, the EU special structures of monitoring the rights of minorities in candidate members will work until they become the EU full-fledged members , and then this problem may be simply forgotten.

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