Russian Foreign Minister meets in Moscow with OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs meets in Moscow with High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe Rolf Ekeus.

Opening the meeting, the Russian Foreign Minister said that "the previous visit by Rolf Ekeus to Moscow in October last year showed the likeness of our views in many spheres." "Therefore, we are interested in maintaining and continuing our constant dialogue and the exchange of opinions on many issues which are in the competence of the High Commissioner on National Minorities," said the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry. According to him, there are several schemes which he would like to discuss at today's negotiations.

As official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko told RIA Novosti in an interview he gave to this agency, at this meeting the Russian side intends to raise the question about the position of the Russian-speaking population in Latvia and Estonia and also in some countries of Central Asia. "Moscow is concerned about the position of the Russian-speaking population in those countries," explained the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry. He said that "Russia's concern is based on the appraisal of the real situation both by the citizens themselves and the authoritative human rights organisations." This problem is openly discussed also by democratically minded representatives of the political quarters in those countries. In particular, they come out for granting national minorities equal rights with the title population, as is provided for by European standards today. The existence of serious problems in the sphere of human rights in Latvia has been confirmed by the decisions of the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg.

As to migration of Russian-speaking people from the Central Asian countries, Moscow believes that it is connected not only with economic difficulties. "Very often in some countries of this region it is caused by ousting the Russian language from the sphere of the public, political and cultural life and the people who speak this language - from the market of labour," points out the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Moscow believes that the facts of religious extremism and intolerance in the Central Asian region also play a negative role. The Russian side thinks that the level of the development of good-neighbourly relations with these countries will depend on how the rights of ethnic Russians will be observed there.

During the short visit to Moscow by Rolf Ekeus, which will last till June 18, it is planned that he will also have conversations in appropriate parliamentary committees.

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