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17.05.2005   Latvian MEP urges calm, tolerance and understanding after EP vote

Brussels, 13 May 2005, EFA press release by Tatjana Zdanoka MEP

Fear of exploitation by right wing politicians

Latvian Euro-MP Tatjana Zdanoka, whose party represents the country's significant Russian speaking minority, has called for calm, tolerance and understanding after the EP passed a resolution this week marking sixty years since the end of World War Two.

Ms Zdanoka stressed that she supported much of the resolution but was unable to vote in favour since she feared the resolution could be exploited by right wing Baltic politicians to attack the Russian minority.

Speaking in the debate on the subject in the European Parliament, Ms Zdanoka explained:

"I firmly believe in the idea of a peaceful and prosperous Europe based on the respect for human rights. And it is for this reason that I cannot vote for Mr Brok's Resolution. I fear that a number of its assertions could create a legal basis for the violation of human rights and huge injustice in my country, Latvia, as well as in neighbouring Estonia.

The text states that the countries of
Eastern Europe were for many decades under Soviet occupation. In the case of Latvia and Estonia, there are concerns that such an approach could lead to dangerous consequences for those who settled there during these decades - more than half a million people.

In the latest issue of the Baltic Times, Estonian MEP Toomas Ilves explained just what this assertion means, he wrote that 'Hence, the protection of minorities in the
Baltic states will become senseless.'

Moreover, two weeks ago the Latvian parliament accepted for further consideration a declaration asking the European Parliament to back a dismissal for Latvia from its obligation to accept foreign citizens and their descendants who had been moved to Latvia during the time of occupation.

I can never agree that my father, a Soviet naval officer, who helped defeat Hitler's army and its local allies Arais, Cukurs and others responsible for the murder of eighty thousand Latvian Jews - my father's grand parents amongst them - my father who was thrown out of the Soviet navy on Stalin's orders for being a Jew - I can never agree that he was an occupier.

Equally, I can never agree that my mother, of Russian orthodox religion, who came to
Riga from St Petersburg in 1950, should be a subject for repatriation as the draft Latvian declaration says.

My concern is that the assertion of this European Parliament resolution will encourage Latvian lawmakers to adopt their Declaration in the near future.

I do not want the
Baltic states to become the second Balkans. We parliamentarians must take full responsibility for the words we are saying".

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For further press information:
Steven Cornelius
EFA Press Officer
The European Free Alliance in the European Parliament
scornelius@europarl.eu.int
Mobile: +32 473 56 09 67

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