Estonia and Latvia believe Russia tries to use the national minorities issue to interfere in processes inside the EU and NATO
The 13th session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) opened in Edinburgh in the beginning of July. The assembly passed the resolution about national minorities, originally initiated by Russia. At first the resolution was called “About the situation with national minorities in Latvia and Estonia.” Obviously, the delegates from both Latvia and Estonia could not like such a title. The majority of EU deputies supported their initiative to change the title of the resolution and to amend its text. The main goal of amendments was to cut the mentioning of Latvia and Estonia.
The Parliamentary Assembly has finished its work now, but several Latvian and Estonian politicians are still anxious about the national minorities resolution. The two countries are not happy even with the passed variant of the document, which did not focus attention on the national minorities in the Baltic republics.
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Latvian parliament Artis Pabriks blamed Russia for attempts to blacken Latvia in the international scale. In an interview to the Latvian radio station Pabriks stated: “Russia is using its large propaganda potential and its membership in international organizations to cast a false color on Latvia and to show influence on its politics.” “Western Europe and Europe on the whole has been subjected to the influence of the Russian propaganda for more than ten years already,” said he. Artis Pabriks is expected to become a candidate for the position of Latvia's foreign minister. He called upon his colleagues in the parliament to unite with Estonian parliamentarians and prepare a new resolution for assembly's next session. The resolution would denounce Russia and leading Western states, RIA Novosti reports.
The controversy started because of the appeal to Latvia to start ratifying the convention about national minorities and to grant non-citizens the right to participate in the elections of self-governing agencies. It was just an appeal, the resolution did not say that it was obligatory to implement it.
Estonia's deputy in the European parliament Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Estonia's former Foreign Affairs Minister, expressed his own opinion on the issue too. The deputy believes, the fact that OSCE Parliamentary Assembly passed the resolution about national minorities proves that Moscow's attitude to the Baltic states has not changed at all even when Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia joined the EU and NATO. Ilves thinks Russia tries to use the national minorities issue to interfere in processes inside the EU and NATO, Regnum news agency reports.
The deputy of the European parliament released a rather vague statement too: “If you have a direct approach to the authorities of a EU and NATO member, your costs on espionage will reduce a lot. If you need to know what interesting can be found in EU and NATO's documents meant for the 'internal use' it will be a lot easier to have them if you take a grip on a certain government. Latvia and Estonia are more vulnerable than others at this point.” Toomas Hendrik Ilves apparently implies that Russia allegedly controls Latvian and Estonian governments. Probably, the deputy suggests Russia should be more active with its efforts in this direction.
Latvia's acting Foreign Affairs Minister Rihards Piks believes Russia tries to point out existing problems in the two Baltic states, but in fact it actually distracts attention of the world community from human rights issues in Russia itself. The minister means Chechnya first and foremost. Latvian and Estonian politicians actively criticize Russia's politics in the Caucasian republic. However, they prefer to deal with Chechens from afar. The Estonian government in Moscow has recently denied visas to Chechen schoolchildren, who were going to stay in a summer camp on the outskirts of Tallinn to study English there. Diplomats did not comment about it at all. The deputies of the Estonian parliament were very disturbed with the absurd situation. They asked for an explanation from the foreign affairs minister. It seems the problem with children will be over when summer ends.