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No 31/127-275
27 February 1997

H.E. Mr. Max van der Stoel
OSCE High Commissioner on
National Minorities
Prinsessegracht 22
P.0. Box 200062
25000 EB - The Hague
The Netherlands


First or all, I will be very glad and honoured to meet you once again in Riga in April this year. Your visits contribute greatly to the constant strengthening and harmonisation of relations among the national and ethnic groups in Latvia. That is why we give the most serious consideration to all your proposals and recommendations.

Referring to your letter 1147/96/L of 21 November 1996, regarding inclusion of information on nationality into the Latvia's citizens passport, I can inform you about the following. The Ministry or Foreign Affairs of Latvia has discussed your proposal with other relevant ministries, the Naturalisation Board and the Consultative Council on Nationalities, and has collated the various views. All the consulted institutions supported the general idea of the proposal. However, there undoubtedly exist some difficulties in its implementation. The following were mentioned most often:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will suggest the proposal for inclusion into the agenda of the Council of Ministers. Decision-making on this issue might require some time. I assure you that we will keep you informed about any further developments in this regard.

Referring to your letter with questionnaire of 10 December 1996,1 have the honour to forward to you the requested information on the linguistic rights of persons belonging to national minorities and the principles of education of national minorities in Latvia.

Accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Valdis Birkavs

Minister for Foreign Affairs

of the Republic of Latvia