The “Non-Citizens” of the Baltic States: Α European Scandal Nobody Speaks about!

The negotiations on Brexit are attracting a lot of attention. In particular, the possible erosion of the rights of around three million EU-27 citizens living in Britain is a major cause for concern.

The European Parliament resolution adopted on 3 October states that “the withdrawal agreement must incorporate the full set of rights citizens currently enjoy, such that there is no material change in their position”.

The main author of this text, Mr Guy Verhofstadt, the EP Brexit Coordinator, argues that such an approach – not to lower the level of citizens’ rights – is “the goal of democracy”. But why was the very same principle ignored when another “exit” took place in Europe? It was the exit of the Baltic states from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1990-1991 when a million and a half citizens who had arrived in Latvia and Estonia from other republics were deprived of the essential rights they enjoyed.

Theoretical substantiation for this legal action was found in the doctrine of restoring the pre-war republics. On October 15, 1991, a month after the recognition of Latvia by most UN Member States, on the very day when the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Latvia has solemnly signed the 1975 Helsinki act, the Supreme Council has adopted the resolution “On the Renewal of the Republic of Latvia Citizens’ Rights and Fundamental Principles of Naturalization”. By this act, Latvian citizenship was only granted to those residents who were in possession of it on 17 June 1940, as well as their descendants. This was a unique case in parliamentary history: a parliament deprived one third of its own voters of citizenship and, thus, of voting rights. A same decision was undertaken by the Estonian Supreme Council.

When comparing these British and Baltic’ “exits” we can see some similarities in the situation of those who moved from one Member State to another within one common Union before the decision to exit this Union took place. It is worth mentioning that sometimes these people were simply nominated to go to that another Member State: after graduating high school (in the case of the USSR) or to work in Union institutions (in the case of the EU). But there is also one essential difference. Those citizens of the EU-27 residing in Britain retain the very same Union’ citizenship after Brexit. Being nationals of a particular Member State, they enjoy the full scope of political rights of citizens of that state. In the case of Latvia and Estonia, people found themselves in an odd notion of “phantom” citizenship of a non-existent state – the USSR.

The status of those Latvian residents who were not granted citizenship of Latvia after an adoption of the resolution mentioned above was not certain for a long time.

In June 1992 the Law “On Entry into and Residence in the Republic of Latvia of Aliens and Stateless Persons”, regulating the procedure for acquiring residence permits by its subjects was adopted by the Supreme Council. The lawmaker had an intention to make all residents who had not been granted Latvian citizenship subject to this law. Here is another similarity with Brexit. As the European Parliament resolution of this Tuesday states,

“the situation of the United Kingdom’s proposals set out in its position paper of 26 June 2017 fall short in that respect, not least as regards the proposal to create a new category of ‘settled status’ under United Kingdom immigration law; … the disclosed policy options on the future status of EU citizens are causing unnecessary hardship and anxiety for the citizens of the EU-27 living in the United Kingdom”.

In Latvia, the skilful work by MPs from the opposition group “For Equal Rights”, of which I was a member, stopped attempts to make all residents not granted Latvian citizenship subject to the law “On Entry into and Residence…”. The Supreme Council announced that the status of those who prior to this Law taking effect would have acquired permanent registration of residence would be subject to a special law.

The law in question entitled “On the Status of Former USSR Citizens, Who are not Citizens of Latvia or Any Other State” was adopted on 25 April 1995. Subjects of this law called “non-citizens of Latvia” were issued special Latvian non-citizen’s passports.

Who are non-citizens of Latvia by the sum of their legal attributes?

The Constitutional Court of Latvia in its judgment of 7 March 2005 declared:

“After passing of the Non-Citizen Law a new, and hitherto unknown category of persons appeared – Latvian non-citizens. Latvian non-citizens cannot be compared with any other status of a physical entity, determined in international legal acts, as the rights, established for non-citizens, do not comply with any other status. Latvian non-citizens can be regarded neither as citizens, nor as aliens or stateless persons but as persons with ”a specific legal status”.

By stating that non-citizens are not stateless persons, the inventors of the “specific” status aimed to help Latvia evade fulfilment of a number of international obligations, in particular, under the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961) as well as under the European Convention on Nationality (1997). But in reality they have created nothing more than the entity of second-class citizens of the country. It is clear that the rights of persons to be protected by the state and to freely return to Latvia which non-citizens enjoy by Law are essential characteristics of citizens. On the other hand, non-citizens do not have the rights to participate either in national or local elections. Restrictions relating to more than thirty professions are in force for  Latvian non-citizens.

I can imagine what the reaction of the EU institutions would be if a state like Russia or Belarus had an extremely high proportion of persons deprived of citizenship and, consequently, of the full scope of citizens’ rights. But in 2004 the Republic of Latvia  successfully joined the EU bringing on board the 450.000 non-citizens (20% of the population).

Why was the problem ignored at the stage of EU accession? There were a lot of reasons, mainly geo-strategic in nature. In the mid 90s the strategic decision on the Baltic states’ integration was made by EU leaders. The majority of Latvia’s stateless population are ethnic Russians. So the problems of these persons were treated by the EU mostly from the point of view of competing with Russia for influence in the Baltic region. The feelings and needs of the stateless population of the Baltic States didn’t have any value in that game for regional dominance. The official position the EU on the problem of the stateless population was that the process of naturalization of non-citizens would be able to solve this problem completely. The European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2004 on the state of preparedness of Latvia for EU membership

“welcomes the increase in the naturalisation rate in 2003 mainly due to the referendum campaign for the EU accession, even if the naturalisation process remains too slow; therefore invites the Latvian authorities to promote that process and considers that minimum language requirements for elderly people may contribute to it; encourages the Latvian authorities to overcome the existing split in society and to favour the genuine integration of “non-citizens”, ensuring an equal competitive chance in education and labour; proposes that the Latvian authorities envisage the possibility of allowing non-citizens who are long-time inhabitants to take part in local self-government elections”.

More than thirteen years have passed since then. The non-citizens are still deprived of voting rights, including self-government elections. Restrictions relating to more than thirty professions are still in force concerning Latvian non-citizens. Even when some of these restrictions are abolished, new ones appear, and the total has remained almost the same for past 22 years. Conditions for naturalisation were not facilitated. If the legislation on citizenship does not change, the problem of mass statelessness will remain an issue for a very long time. Today the number of Latvian non-citizens is still over 240,000 people (more than 12% of the population).

The European Parliament in our resolution of 3 October “Expresses concern about regrettable administrative practices against EU citizens living in the United Kingdom”.

I’m looking forward to the future solidarity of my colleagues with hundreds of thousands of second-class Latvian citizens (called “non-citizens”) living in Latvia.

Sometimes parallels in history help people begin to see clearly.


2017-10-09

About the author:

Tatjana Zdanoka is member of the European Parliament, Political Party “Latvian Russian Union”

Source: Defend Democracy Press


Disclaimer/Legal Statement:

The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website.

The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website.

The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors.

The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website.

The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website.

We do not use cookies.

18+

Knowledge and best practice in this field are constantly changing. As new research and experience broaden our understanding, changes in research methods, professional practices, or medical treatment may become necessary. Practitioners and researchers must always rely on their own experience and knowledge in evaluating and using any information, methods, compounds, or experiments described herein. In using such information and/or methods they should be mindful of their own safety and the safety of others, including parties for whom they have a professional responsibility.

To the fullest extent of the law, neither the owner & editor-in-chief nor the authors, assume any liability for any injury and/or damage to persons, property, institutions, nations or states as a matter of products liability, negligence or otherwise, or from any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained in the material on this website.

The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

With best regards,

Dr Vladislav B. Sotirović

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

sotirovic@global-politics.eu

Save 

READ MORE!
A Liberal Democracy, a Market Capitalist Economy and the Permanent Wars
War is not an anomaly, nor an exception to the rule, it has always been with us and it might always be. Militarism and its practice in war are subcategories of waste (the harmful things we produce such as pollution and bombs) and domains of accumulation themselves. They are also prerequisites for the expansion of capital and its market economy. Much is done to portray war as an inherent attribute of human fallibility or an unintended consequence. However, mainstream concepts associated with the promotion of the market economy are weapons of the ruling class. They are all laced with poison. ...
READ MORE
Baltic States Sacrifice Economy on Altar of Politics
Making negative statements concerning Russia, the Baltic States set Moscow against themselves and force it to respond. Especially they irritate it making unproven warlike statements for the sake of “common line” of the EU or NATO on the issue. But as John Steinbeck said “all war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.” After major information campaign in the Baltic States aimed to discredit Zapad 2017 military exercise, Russia tries to find the most vulnerable places to hurt the Baltic States. It is absolutely evident, that such sphere is economy. For a long time Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia ...
READ MORE
Baltic States: Missed Opportunities in Global Politics
We are living in the world where the facts "who makes" and "where it is made" are much more important than "what for" issue. Nowadays the world political scene is divided between superpowers supported by their allies. In order to punish each other for having opposite views the sides criticize any step made by the opponent. Unfortunately, this happens even in case of evident necessity. It is not the secret that the modern system of international security is unable to perform all demanded functions any more. It needs to be reformed. Another question is who and where will decide. The most likely ...
READ MORE
Spoiled Latvia’s Image in the International Arena: The Rights of the Ethnic Russian Minority
Latvia is actively preparing for one of the most important political events of the year. Parliamentary elections will take place on October 6, 2018. Submission of the lists of candidates for the 13th Saeima elections will take place very soon – from July 18 to August 7, 2018. But the elections campaign as well as all political life in the country face some problems which require additional attention from the authorities. And these problems spoil the image of Latvia as a democratic state which respects the rights of its people. This is a well-known fact, that the image of the state ...
READ MORE
The Baltic Holocaust and Russophobia
On 23 June 2017 in the Parliament Square of Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, an official celebration of the uprising of 23 June 1943 against Soviet rule took place. The event was orchestrated mainly by veterans of the Lithuanian Freedom Fighters Association, a far-right militia group. During these celebrations an exhibit of more than 12 posters were hung which presented the anti-Soviet insurrection one that “drove terror into the Bolshevik occupying army and the lackeys of the occupation forces.” Some historical context is needed here. In June 1941, Hitler had launched a surprise attack on the Soviet Union, overrunning the Baltics in a ...
READ MORE
America’s War Аgainst the People of Korea: The Historical Record of US War Crimes
The following text by Michel Chossudovsky was presented in Seoul, South Korea in the context of the Korea Armistice Day Commemoration, 27 July 2013 A Message for Peace. Towards a Peace Agreement and the Withdrawal of US Troops from Korea Introduction Armistice Day, 27 July 1953 is day of Remembrance for the People of Korea. It is a landmark date in the historical struggle for national reunification and sovereignty. I am privileged to have this opportunity of participating in the 60th anniversary commemoration of Armistice Day on July 27, 2013. I am much indebted to the “Anti-War, Peace Actualized, People Action” movement for this opportunity ...
READ MORE
The Idea of a Greater Croatia by Pavao Ritter Vitezović (II)
Part I The political purpose of Vitezović’s writings The ultimate political purpose of P. R. Vitezović’s works, based on his ideological construction, was of a triple nature. First of all, he tried to refute the Venetian claims on the territory of Dalmatia, the Istrian Peninsula, the Dalmatian Islands and Boka Kotorska (Cattaro Gulf in present-day Montenegro) that rose during the Great Vienna War 1683–1699 in which the Republic of St. Marco successfully fought the Ottoman Sultanate in a coalition with the Habsburg Empire [Banac 1984, 73]. The war clearly marked the beginning of the irreversible decline of the Ottoman power which consequently opened ...
READ MORE
A Liberal Democracy, a Market Capitalist Economy and the Permanent Wars
Baltic States Sacrifice Economy on Altar of Politics
Baltic States: Missed Opportunities in Global Politics
Spoiled Latvia’s Image in the International Arena: The Rights of the Ethnic Russian Minority
The Baltic Holocaust and Russophobia
America’s War Аgainst the People of Korea: The Historical Record of US War Crimes
The Idea of a Greater Croatia by Pavao Ritter Vitezović (II)

Policraticus

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu