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Intercultural Dialogue Europe


LATVIA

 

Major Challenges

Ethnic and cultural division of the country, with parallel society of Russian culture and origin, large numbers of whom are stateless; one third of the population do not speak the national language. Reluctance towards cultural diversity; highly stereotyping attitudes and latent xenophobia; growing misbalance between the high share of minority population and their lack of participation in public life; discrimination in the labour market; slow and difficult integration process.

Main Interpretations

Social integration of all people living in Latvia; Give more visibility to the existing cultural diversity in Latvia and to promote intercultural dialogue.

1. General authority

No general Authority, but the main institution dealing with issues of ICD is the

Ministry for Special Assignments for Social Integration Affairs
(http://www.integracija.gov.lv/)

Coordination of the implementation of several ICD-related programmes, including:

Policies:

  • State Programme ‘Integration of the Society of Latvia' with the main objective of a united and consolidated society;
  • National Programme for Promotion of Tolerance (National Working Group for implementation);
  • State Programme ‘Gypsies (Romany) in Latvia'.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Special Assignments Minister for Social Integration (set up in 2003) (http://www.am.gov.lv/en/news/Newsletters/Integration/2006/61/)

Promotion of respect and tolerance through development and strengthening of civic society, preservation and development of (ethnic, cultural, religious) identities, funding of related projects. In October 2006, co-operation agreements were concluded with several NGOs under the project ‘Latvia - Equal in Diversity II'.

EYID-coordination body:

Ministry for Special Assignments for Social Integration Affairs
(http://www.integracija.gov.lv/)

National Advisory Board for implementation: National Working Group of the National Programme for Promotion of Tolerance (see above)

National Implementation Strategy  http://ec.europa.eu/culture/eac/dialogue/strategies_en.html

2. Culture

Ministry of Culture
(http://www.km.gov.lv/)

Policies: ‘State Cultural Policy Guidelines 2006 - 2015', including the principles of ICD, stressing the need for dialogue, understanding and diversity.

3. Education

Ministry of Education and Science
(http://www.izm.gov.lv/)

Supports more than 200 schools for minorities in Latvia. There are several centres in Latvia to support bilingual teaching at schools, financed by municipalities.

Policies:  National Programme for Latvian Language Training (NPLLT). For the implementation, a special agency has been set up:

Latvian Agency for Latvian Language Training
(http://www.lvava.gov.lv/index.php?about_us)

One key message of the Agency is that ‘Language acquisition can promote integration, and integration related events can promote language acquisition'.

4. Youth

Ministry for Children and Family Affairs
(http://www.bm.gov.lv/)

Different ministries carry out youth policies in specific directions and issues. Non-governmental organizations, municipalities and especially youth organizations are involved in implementing youth policy. Present youth policy does not directly address ICD-related issues. The Ministry also runs the Agency of international youth programmes, promoting youth activity and mobility in voluntary youth work, youth non-formal education and youth information programmes.

5. Sports

Ministry of Education and Science
(http://www.izm.gov.lv/)

6. Other domestic responsibilities of importance for ICD

Institution of Latvian Ombudsman
(http://www.vcb.lv/eng)

Latvian Society Integration Fund
(http://www.lsif.lv/)

The Naturalization Board (NB)
(http://www.np.gov.lv/)

State administrative institution set up in 1994, coping with the ongoing problem of the high number of stateless people. The NB published and circulated a lot of informative material on the application for citizenship and implements several projects in order to increase inhabitants' understanding of the issue.

Municipalities:

There are specific integration programmes in many local municipalities taking into account the local composition of the society and other local circumstances.

Civil Society (EX):

There are various NGOs presenting ethnic minorities. Others are e.g.:

Soros Foundation-Latvia
(http://www.sfl.lv/)

Latvian Centre for Human Rights (LCHR)
(http://www.humanrights.org.lv/)

Puts one main focus on social integration, which includes all minority-related and tolerance issues as it is considered the difficult issue relating to human rights in Latvia. The LCHR is actively involved in advocacy for change, ranging from raising public awareness to specific policy or legislative change. It has been internationally awarded several times, e.g. for being "an authoritative and objective source on human rights and inter-ethnic issues in Latvia".

Open Web Portal "Dialogue" - People, Ideas, Encounters
(http://www.dialogi.lv/)

In the Latvian and Russian languages, with Forum and Topics interesting to young people, promoting tolerance and understanding.

7. Trans-border / International ICD programmes

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(http://www.am.gov.lv/en)

Related tasks: Promotion of Latvian culture abroad; development cooperation.

Ministry for Special Assignments for Social Integration Affairs
(http://www.integracija.gov.lv/)

EX: Support programme for Latvian Diaspora, initiated by the government of Latvia.




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