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Muiznieks: Council of Europe will continue to demand that non-citizens in Latvia be permitted to participate in municipal elections

Alla Petrova, BC, Riga, 07.02.2012.Print version
The Council of Europe will continue to urge Latvia to permit non-citizens to participate in local government elections, the newly-elected Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks said in an interview with LETA.

"The Council of Europe has been talking about this for fifteen years, and it would be a little naive to expect that the Council of Europe will stop doing this, whether I am commissioner or someone else," said Muiznieks. "This is nothing new, and that is what we should expect from the Council of Europe, that it will be urging Latvia to consider such a possibility."


At the same time, Muiznieks stressed that this problem would not be a priority to him. "I believe that a commissioner who sets himself a task of changing a certain country's constitution will hardly achieve any results soon," he believes.


Nevertheless, Muiznieks believes that the current situation in Latvia, where a large number of people have no right to even have a say on economic local matters, "distorts democracy". In Muiznieks' opinion, if non-citizens are permitted to participate in local government elections, this will not reduce their wish to naturalize but, on the contrary, encourage their participation in the country's social and political life.


"Additionally, this makes citizens and the political parties of Latvia to take interest in what the non-citizens want, what are their opinions and attitudes. This in turn facilitates integration – one segment of the population takes interest in the other," stressed Muiznieks.


The new commissioner emphasizes that the status of non-citizens' children is closely related to human rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child states unambiguously that a child has a right to citizenship the moment he or she is born, notes Muiznieks.

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