HomeMEDIA RESOURCES200326 May 2003, Prague - BALTIC STATES REJECT RUSSIAN ACCUSATIONS
26 May 2003, Prague - BALTIC STATES REJECT RUSSIAN ACCUSATIONS
PRESS COMMUNIQUE. PRAGUE, May 26 – The Baltic states of Latvia and Estonia, supported by Lithuania, on Monday strongly rebutted a Russian parliamentarian’s report accusing them of mistreating the sizeable Russian communities living in their respective countries.
“Most of these accusations are simply absurd,” Sven Mikser, Estonia’s representative, told a meeting of NATO parliamentarians. “This paper is full of untruths and half truths.”
The allegations were contained in a special report presented to a meeting of the NATO – Parliamentary Association by Ljubov Sliska, a deputy speaker of Russia’s State Duma. Sliska said many Russians were being treated as “second-class” citizens and denied linguistic and democratic rights.
Latvia’s representative, Guntis Berzins, said the report was “biased and misleading and aimed to create a misleading impression” of Latvia which had made huge progress towards establishing democracy and the rule of law since obtaining independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991 after what he termed a “brutal” 50-year occupation.
He said several international organizations, including the European Union, the United Nations, OSCE, and the Council of Europe, had given Latvia – which has over 500,000 Russians living on its territory – a “clean bill of health”.
“Russia has just not reconciled itself to the loss of the Baltic States,” he said.
Sliska said it was unacceptable that Russians, who account for some 40 percent of Latvia’s total population of 2.3 million, were not naturalized more swiftly and left in a limbo situation of “non-citizenship”.
The meeting took place within the framework of the NATO Assembly’s spring session which is being currently held in the Municipal House in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic.
The NATO Parliamentary Assembly, founded in 1955, brings together 214 national parliamentarians from the 19 NATO countries. Associate delegations from 20 other nations, including Russia, also take part in most Assembly activities and meetings. Latvia and Estonia are not yet members of NATO, but have been invited to join the alliance.
In Estonia, an estimated 172,000 Russians out of a population of 1.3 million, were classed as “non-citizens” in 2002.
Lithuania, although not targeted in the report, rallied behind its fellow Baltic states, describing the report as “unhelpful and untrue.”
For more information: Jonathan Clayton, NATO – PA spokesperson. Tel: (+420) 222 002 264 Mobile: (+420) 736 230 687 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org