Opinions about Latvia's possible accession to EU

Representatives of Russian-speaking population of Latvia have contrasting opinions about the possibility of Latvia's accession to the European Union. According to various estimations, non-native residents comprise 30-40 percent of the country's population.

On the eve of the national referendum on the accession issue, representatives of Russian-speaking community made several appeals to Lithuanian citizens - representatives of national minorities with voting rights.

"The accession to the EU will not change anything in the situation concerning Russian-speaking nationals of Lithuania, because the European Union is a purely economic structure," says a statement issued by the Coordination Council of Public Organization of Russian-speaking population. The statement was immediately supported by the Russian Society in Latvia, the Association of Russian Youth and several other public organizations.

According to their opinion, Russian-speaking citizens of Latvia must seek precise information about the consequences of the accession, the ratification of the Framework Convention (on the rights of national minorities) and the solution of the issue about education in the Russian language.

The Headquarters of Preservation of Russian Schools maintains similar position. It appeals to all non-Latvians with voting rights not to believe the assurances that everything would be great if Latvia became part of Europe.

The Russian-language newspaper "Chas" (Hour) reports that the propaganda for accession is conducted under the slogan: "Europe or Russian tanks!" "We appeal to our supporters to say 'No' to such Europe during September 20 referendum," says the statement issued by the Headquarters.

Despite the fact that the EU position in relation to Latvia has not always been consistent and honest, we must chose the EU, believe representatives of the parliamentary party in opposition Ravnopravie (Equal Rights).

"In the strategic perspective, the EU membership is beneficial for Latvian economy. Besides, the EU creates effective mechanisms for preventing racism and promoting the rights of national minorities," the leadership of Ravnopravie explains its position.

Latvian Association for the support of schools with instruction in Russian language also stands for the accession.

"Only if Latvia joins the EU, the Russian-speaking residents can hope that the authorities would listen to their opinion, that their children would retain the right to get education in their native language," stated chairman of the board of the Association Igor Pimenov. "Therefore, I believe we should vote for Europe."

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