The Baltic States before EU Accession: Recent Developments in Minority Protection

In: European Yearbook of Minority Issues Online
View More View Less
  • 1 Analyst of the Legal Information Centre for Human Rights (Estonia).
  • 2 Member of parliament and member of the Parliamentary Assemhly of the Council of Europe (Latvia).

Login via Institution

Purchase instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):


If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • 1 Source: Statistical Offices of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, 2003 Data provided by local statistical offices at

  • the authors' request. The national census in Estonia and Latvia took place in 2000 and in Lithuania in 2001. 2 Priit Jarve and Christian Wellmann, 'Minorities and Majorities in Estonia: Problems of Integration at the Threshold of the EU', ECMI Report No. 2 (Flensburg,1999), 43 (Table 1); Paul Kolstoe (ed.) Nation- Building and Ethnic Integration in Post-Soviet Societies. lln Investigation of Latvia and Kazakhstan (Boulder, Oxford, 1999), 64 (Table 4.1).

  • 3 See Vadim Poleshchuk, Advice not Welcomed. Recommendations of the OSCE High Commissioner to Estonia and Latvia and the Response (Münster, 2001), 83-4. 4 Source: Statistical Office of Estonia, 2001, Naturalization Board of Latvia, 2003. Data provided in 2000 Population and Housing Census, Citizenship, Nationality, Mother Tongue and Command of Foreign Languages, 11 (Tallinn, 2001), Table 1; and the web site of the Naturalization Board of Latvia, at en/index.htm. 5 See for details Boris Tsilevich, 'Development of the Language Legislation in the Baltic States', 3(2) MOST Journal on Multicultural Societies (2001), at bttp://; Priit Jarve, 'Two Waves of Language Laws in the Baltic States: Changes of Rationale', 33(1) Journal of Baltic Studies (2002), 78-110.

  • 6 See official documents: National Program Integration in Estonian Society 2000-2007 (Tallinn, 2000) and The Integration of Society in Latvia: A Framework Document (Riga, 1999). 7 See for details Hanne-Margret Birckenbach, Preventive Diplomacy through Fact-finding. How International Organisations Review the Conflict over Citixenship in Estonia and Latvia (Hamburg, 1997). 8 Vadim Poleshchuk, fldvice not Welcomed ...,10. 9 The progress reports are available at 10 Stefanie Ricken, 'Multi-organisational Response: The Case of the Russian-speaking Minorities in the Baltic States', in Holger Moroff (ed.), European Soft Security Policies: Zhe Northern Dimension (Helsinki, Berlin, 2002), 308-41, at 325.

  • 11 See Vadim Poleshchuk, 'Estonia, Latvia and the European Commission: Changes in Language Regulation in 1999-2001', Eumap's featured articles: The Limits of the Law, 17 January 2002, at articles/content/40/402/#top. 12 For more detailed consideration of the EU impact on development of minority protection in the candidate states, see Boris Tsilevich, 'EU Enlargement and the Protection of National Minorities: Opportunities, Myths, and Prospects', Eumap's featured articles: European Standards in Minority Protection, 1 October 2001, at; Bruno de Witte, 'Politics versus law in the EU's approach to ethnic minorities', European University Institute, Working Paper RSC No. 4 (2000); Gabriel N. Toggenburg, A Rough Orientation Through a Delicate Relationship: The European Union's Endeavours for (its) Minorities', 4(16) EIoP (2000), at; Yekaterina Dorodnova, 'EU Concerns in Estonia and Latvia: Implications of Enlargement for Russia's Behavior Towards the Rus- sian-Speaking Minorities', European University Institute, Working Paper RSC No. 40 (2000). 13 ten the beginning and especially during the time we were tarred with the brush of Bosnia, when I raised the issue of stigmatization I was invariably rebuffed by Western diplomats who forcefullv told me: there is no stigma whatsoever to having a Mission in your country. Curioush; however, when we got to the final negotiations on an exit strategy, I was just forcefully told the opposite: no candidate countrywith an OSCE Mission will ever be taken into NATO or the EU', in Toomas Hendrik lives, 'The OSCE Mission in Esto- nia',13(4) HM (2002), 320-5, at 323. T H. lives is a former Estonian Minister for Foreign Affairs. 14 Walter Kemp et al. (eds.), OSCE Handbook ( Vienna, 3rd ed.1999), 73-7. 15 'Report to the OSCE Permanent Council on the work of the OSCE Mission to Estonia presented by Ambassador Doris Hertrampf, Head of Mission on 28 June 2001, Vienna (document on file with the authors).

  • 16 See the Statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry Regarding the Cessation of Work of the OSCE Mis- sions in Estonia and Latvia of 24 Decemher 2001 at (in Russian). 17 "the mandate of the OSCE Assistance Group to Chechnya expired on 31 December as the OSCE's 55 participating States were unable to agree on extending it', OSCE Press release of 3 January 2003, at 18 Latvian Human Rights Committee, `Report on the Implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in the Republic of Latvia' (Riga, 2002), 8, at report/Latvia NGO.htm. 19 Ibid., 63-6. 20 Results of all Latvian elections are available at

  • 2I Results of all Estonian elections are available at 22 Published in Riigi Teataja Lisa (RTL), 2000, 49, 740. Riigi Teataja Lisa is an appendix to the official State Journal. 23 See Open Society Institute, EU Accession Monitoring Program, Monitoring the EUAccession Process: Minor- ity Protection, Ilolume 1, lln llssessment of Selected Policies in Candidate States 2002, (Budapest, 2002), 240. 24 All draft laws submitted to the Estonian parliament and information about their progress can be found at the parliament's official website ( 25 Published Riigi Teataja (RT) I 1993, 71,1001. Riigi Teataja is an official State Journal. 26 Published RT I 1995, 23, 334.

  • 27 According to the Law on Legal Chancellor, Chapter IV. The Law published RT I 1999, 29, 406. 28 Published RT I 2003,23,142. 29 Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 Implementing the Principle of Equal Treatment between Persons Irrespective of Racial or Ethnic Origin; Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 Establishing a General Framework for Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation. 30 Amendments published RT I 2001, 95, 588. 31 Amendment published RT I 2001, 94, 581. 32 Amendment published RT I 2001,100, 642.

  • 33 Law on Local Self govemment Organization, Article 41(4) as amended on 4 December 2001. 34 Amendment published RT 12002,9,47. 35 Compared to 52% of persons who speak Estonian as a mother tongue, according to the data of 2000 national census. See 2000 Population and Housing Census.... Table 38. 36 Estonian school system is structured as follows: elementary school (1-4 grades), basic school (5-9), upper secondary school (10-12). 37 Published RT I 1993, 63, 892. 38 Amendments published RT I 1997, 69,1111. 39 Amendments published RT I 2000, 33,195. According to Article 9 (1-1) (1-2) of the amended Law,'[t]he language of instruction is the language in which at least sixty per cent of the teaching on the curriculum is given.'.

  • 40 See e.g. Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, opinion on Estonia adopted on 14 September 2001, ACFC/INF/OP/I(2002)5, paras. 51-2, reiterated also in the resolution of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, ResCMN(2002)8. 41 Amendments published RT 12002, 34, 205. 42 The opinion by Aleksei Semjonov, Director of the Legal Information Centre for Human Rights in Vadim Poleshchuk, 'Legal Aspects of National Integration in Estonia and Latvia', ECMI Report No. 33 (Flens- burg, 2002), 9. 43 Amendment published RT I 2003,21,125.

  • 44 In 1992-2001, naturalization in Estonia was as follows (in parenthesis the number of persons who natu- ralized after language tests: 1992 - 5,421 (0),1993 - 20,370 (3,013),1994 - 22,474 (3,679),1995 - 16,674 (10,689), 1996 - 22,773 (16,672), 1997 - 8,124 (2,099), 1998 - 9,969 (3,236), 1999 - 4334 (1,909), 2000 - 3,425 (1,29'�, 2001-3,090 (1,107). Data provided bv the Citizenship and Migration Board at the authors' request. In 1995, a new Law on Citizenship was adopted that made naturalization requirements somehow more difficult. Furthermore, tests on the Constitution and the Law on Citizenship were introduced to the naturalization procedure. Since 2001, naturalization language tests were equated with professional linguistic tests of any level. Additionally final state language tests in schools were equated with professional tests the same year. See Vadim Poleshchuk,Advice not Welcomed ..., 58-9. All that resulted in a slight increase of the number of those who naturalized using the general procedure in 2002. 45 Source: The Office of the Minister for Population Affairs, 2003. Communication from the Office of the Minister for Population Affairs No. 3--4.1/031932 of 6 March 2003. 46 Law on Citizenship published RT 11995,12,122. 47 Amendment published RT I 2003,18,101.

  • 48 Published RT I 1993, 44, 637. 49 Published RT I 1997, 73,1202. 50 Published RT I 1999,101, 900. 51 See e.g. 'Concluding Observations by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Estonia, 19 April 2000, CERD/C/304/Add.98, para. 11. 52 Decision of the Administrative Law Chamber of the State Court of 18 May 2000 No.3-3-1-Il-00 (RT III 2000,14,149). 53 Amendment published RT I 2002, 56, 351. 54 According to the Law on Aliens (Article 12) former Soviet military servicemen or security service veterans cannot be granted a permanent residence permit because they receive temporary permits as an exception. However, a recent decision of the State Court has recognized the right of some former Soviet and Russian military servicemen to receive ordinary temporary permits, which could be later changed into permanent

  • permits. Decision of the Administrative Law Chamber of the State Court of 24 October 2002 No. 3-3-1- 43-02 (RT III 2002, 28, 310). 55 RT I 1998, 98/99,1575. 56 Amendments published RT I 2001, 58, 352. 57 In practice, the onlv available basis for illegal aliens was family reunification. See for details Vadim Polesh- chuk,'Illegals in Estonia,: Final Solution?', in Astrid Willer (ed.), Documentation. International Conference '7he Baltic Sea as an Escape Route',16-18 November 2001, Bad Segeberg, Germany, (Kiel, 2002),103-5. 58 Interview with \lr. Andre Arjupin and ills. Jelena Karzetskaja, migration Lawyers, 3 March 2003, Tal- linn.

  • 59 Latvian Human Rights Committee, 58 Minority Issues in Latvia (1 November 2002) at http:// 60 Latvian Human Rights Committee, 60 Minority Issues in Latvia (20 December 2002).

  • 61 Letter of the HCNM to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Valdis Birkavs, at latvia/961121r.htm; Minister Birkavs' reply at See also Vadim Poleshchuk,Advice not Welcomed ...,79. 62 Ibid, 79. 63 Latvian Human Rights Committee, 51 Minority Issues in Latvia (1 June 2002). 64 Published Latvijas hestnesis (LV), 17 September 1998. Latvijas hestnesis is an official State newspaper. 65 Law on Changing Registered Name, Surname, and Ethnicity, Article 9 (published LV 5 June 1994), as amended on 23 May 1996 (published LV 7June 1996).

  • 66 Article 11(2) of the same Law. 67 A state body whose main task is to monitor the implementation of the language legislation in Latvia and to punish those who violate it. 68 Views of the Human Rights Committee under Article 5, Paragraph 4, of the Optional Protocol to International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Seventy-second session. Communica- tion No. 884/1999, Antonina Ignatane v. Latvia, 25 July 2001, at UNHRC_Ignatane_2001.html. 69 ECtHR, Podkolxina v. Latvia, Chamber Judgment of 9 April 2002. Press release issued by the Registrar, at

  • 70 Latvian Human Rights Committee, 49 Minority Issues in Latvia (1 May 2002). 71 Latvian Human Rights Committee, 42 Minority Issues in Latvia (17 January 2002). 72 For the history of the problem see Boris Tsilevich and Alexander Ruchkovsky, 'Difference in Status and Rights Between Citizens and Permanent Residents (Non-citizens) of Latvia', (1) Newsletter of International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (1994), 13-7; Magda Opalski, Boris Tsilevich and Piotr Dutkiewicz, Ethnic Conflict in the Baltic States: the Case ofLatvia (Kingston,1994). For the description of the current situ- ation, see Latvian Human Rights Committee, 'Comments on the List of Differences between the Rights of Latvian Citizens and Non-citizens; at 73 Latvian Human Rights Committee, 58 Minority Issues in Latvia (1 November 2002).

  • 74 Ombudsman-type state institution in Latvia. 75 Latvian Human Rights Committee, 64 Minority Issues in Latvia (15 March 2003). 76 Law on Pharmacy published LV 1 May 1997. 77 Latvian Human Rights Committee, 64 Minority Issues in Latvia (15 March, 2003). 78 Open Society Institute, EU Accession Monitoring Program, Monitoring the EU Accession,.., 347-50.

  • 79 Source: The Naturalization Board of the Republic of Latvia, 2003. Available at statistika.htm. 80 The 'timetable', or 'windows of naturalization, which limited the right to apply for naturalization for certain groups of non-citizens on the basis of their age and time of arrival to Latvia, were abolished. 81 Law on Education of 20 October 1998,Transitional provisions, Article 9(3). LV 17 November 1998. 82 Law on Secondary Education of 30 June 1999, Article 42(2), LV 12 August 1999.

  • 83 Available at 84 Law on Radio and Television, published LV 18 September 1995, Articlel9(5): 'The amount of broadcasting time in foreign languages in programmes produced by broadcasting organizations shall not exceed twenty- five per cent of the total volume of the broadcasting time in a twenty-four hours period.' According to Latvian legislation, all languages except for Latvian and Liv are considered foreign languages. 85 Latvian Human Rights Committee, 60 Minority Issues in Latvia (20 December 2002). 86 Official English translation of the amended text of the Constitution and other Lithuanian laws referred to in this article can be found on the official web site of the Lithuanian parliament at http://www3.lrs.It/n/ eng/DPaieska.html. 87 Business Law Group 'Foresta', Legal Newsletter (November 2002), December 2002, available at http: //

  • 88 See at http://www3.lrs.It/n/eng/DPaieska.hmil. 89 Danguole Grigoloviciene, 'Pravovaja sistema i praktika ohrany prav menshinstv v Litve' (`Legal System and Practice of Protection of National Minorities in Lithuania'), in M!ncr<�M;n��/�a.PracMjMo/'7n��TN- tion, International seminar, Tallinn (Estonia) 14-15 June 2002 (Tallinn, 2002), 63-75, at 71 (in Russian). Dan- guole Grigoloviciene is a Head of the Section of National Minorities, Department of National minorities and Lithuanians Living Abroad under the Government of Lithuania. 90 Data by the Ministry of Education and Science. 91 See e.g. Open Society Institute, EU Accession Monitoring Program, Monitoring the EU Accession Process: Minority Protection (Budapest, 2001), 313-42. 92 Danguole Grigoloviciene, 'Legal System and Practice ...', at 70. 93 Stefanie Ricken, 'Multi-organisational Response ...', at 334-5.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 69 30 1
Full Text Views 59 5 0
PDF Downloads 11 10 0