Return to Homepage


His Excellency

Mr Valdis Birkavs

Minister for Foreign Affairs

of the Republic of Latvia



The Hague

21 November 1996

Reference no:


Dear Mr Minister,

I am writing to you in connection with the particular matter of nationality identification in citizens' passports in Latvia. As I understand, Latvian citizens' passports have a box where there is a compulsory requirement for passport holders to provide details about their nationality. It seems to me that the compulsory inclusion of such details does not accord fully with international practice in other countries. Furthermore, in the Latvian context, it may give the impression to some that there are different categories of passport, partly dependent on nationality identification.

May I suggest that the inclusion of these details should, in future, be a voluntary decision on the part of passport holders. Such a change in procedure would not involve any unnecessary costs as there would be no need to alter the technical layout of existing passport books. Simply, the box on the appropriate page in the passport could be left blank if the passport holder does not wish to give this particular information.

I would welcome your consideration of this matter and look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Max van der Stoel

OSCE High Commissioner

on National Minorities