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08.10.2003   Report by EU Commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles on his visit to Latvia


124.                                  Latvia has taken significant strides in the construction of a democratic society.  The completion of this process depends on its being perceived by the large majority of Latvians as a collective challenge leading to democratic development and European integration.  This requires that Latvia close a chapter on the past, however painful it may have been, and fixes its attention firmly on the future.


125.                                  In the light of the preceding findings, and with the aim of assisting Latvia in the promotion of the respect for human rights, the Commissioner makes the following recommendations in conformity with article 8 of Resolution (99)50:

            Accelerate the naturalisation of non-citizens.  In this context :


-                                  facilitate the naturalisation of the particularly vulnerable, such as the elderly, the disabled and the young,


-                                  examine the possibility of providing the naturalisation procedure free of charge,


-                                  ensure the effective implementation of article 3.1 of the law on the nationality regarding infants born after 21 august 1991.  To this end, modify the birth registration forms so as to include the requirement that parents express the desire for their child to acquire Latvian citizenship, or, alternatively, specify a preference for a different nationality;


5.         With a view to encouraging non-citizens to naturalise and promoting their integration,          increase their participation in the political life of the country, notably by examining the   possibility of granting them, amongst others, the right to vote in local elections;


Provide the support and protection of the State to the functioning of secondary schools        teaching in minority languages :


-                                  ensure that the reform of the education system maintains the current high quality of teaching,


-                                  strengthen the cooperation between the Ministry of Education, teachers and parents in the process of defining the best model and time-scales in the implementation of the reforms,


-                                  establish tertiary education programmes for the preparation of teachers of minority languages and syllabi for the teaching of other subjects in minority languages, ensure the publication of textbooks in minority languages;


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