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  • Author: Peter Van Elsuwege
  • Publication Date: 05-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: The restoration of the Baltic states' independence, back in 1991, brought about a number of political and legal challenges. The presence of large nontitular communities in Estonia and Latvi has proven to be the most pressing of these. Notwithstanding the fact that the European Commission already in 1997 concluded that 'on the whole the rights of the Russian-speaking minorities are observed and safeguarded', the legal status of these living relics of the Soviet period remains controversial. A resolution of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, adopted on 13 June 2002, criticised the protection of national minorities in Estonia. In the lead-up to the December 2003 parliamentary elections, the Russian Duma adopted a resolution 'on gross violations of human and minority rights in the Republic of Latvia'. Dmitry Rogozin, chairman of the Parliamentarian Committee on International Relations, announced that Russia should consider the weapon of economic sanctions to put pressure on the Baltic state, which he described as 'a land of hooligans' where 'Nazis have come to power'. Whereas these statements have to be situated within the context of the ongoing election campaign, the remarks of Alvaro Gil-Robles, European Council Commissioner for Human Rights, are to be taken more serious. During his visit to Riga in October 2003, the High Commissioner criticized the lack of citizenship for more than twenty per cent of Latvia's population and recommended the granting of voting rights to non-citizens in municipal elections. On the other hand, G√ľnter Verheugen, EU Commissioner responsible for enlargement, declared that Latvia fulfils all the criteria in the field of societal integration and has complied with all international requirements regarding its ethnic minorities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Natalie Sabanadze
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: The South Caucasus represents one of the most diverse and conflict-ridden regions in the world. It includes the three former Soviet states Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as numerous ethnic minorities and small nations within these states. The term South Caucasus is relatively new and has been used to replace the older term Transcaucasia. According to Valery Tishkov, there is a strong drive of national elites to separate the region from Russia and dismantle old ties to the point of changing names. "It is noteworthy," wrote Tishkov, "that the historical name of the region Transcaucasus has been questioned by the proponents of new political correctness who wish to create a mantle distance from Russia. Consequently, the region is being renamed the South Caucasus" (Tishkov 1999:4). It is, however, worthy of mention that the earlier name Transcaucasus (Za Kavkazye in Russian) reflected the Russian geographical position and literally meant 'beyond or behind the Caucasus', as the three republics were seen from the northern perspective of Russia. Recently, the term South Caucasus has came into use in order to more accurately describe the region and as Tishkov rightly points out, to de-link it from Russia.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, International Organization, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eastern Europe, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia