BRUSSELS, June 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Yesterday, senior representatives of the Latvian Non-Citizens' Congress visited Brussels to hold meetings with representatives of think tanks and Members of the European Parliament from across the political spectrum. The Latvian Non-Citizens' Congress was received by leading Latvian MEP Tatjana Zdanoka (Greens/EFA) and GUE/NGL President Gabriele Zimmer MEP, among others.
The Non-Citizens' Congress has no formal power to decide Latvian government policy yet provides a representative channel for those currently unable to participate in Latvian elections.
The press conference organised by the Non-Citizens' Congress was, however, disrupted as a result of pressure from the Latvian Government and the offices of Members of the European Parliament opposed to the initiative.
Elizabete Krivcova, Valery Komarov and Alexandr Gaponenko explained the work of the Non-Citizens' Congress and its plans for the coming years. Press representatives were invited to pose direct questions to the panel, yet the meeting was repeatedly interrupted by disruptive comments from representatives of Latvian MEPs opposed to the initiative of the Non-Citizens' Congress.
Present on the fringes of the meeting were MEPs Sandra Kalniete and Inese Vaidere. Neither MEP chose to participate in the discussion, despite its open nature.
Elizabete Krivcova, the co-founder and speaker of the Latvian Non-Citizens' Congress said:
"The Latvian Non-Citizens' Congress is always willing to enter into political debate with political opponents both inside and outside Latvia."
"We are disappointed, however, by the concerted efforts of the Latvian Government and representatives of MEPs Sandra Kalniete and Inese Vaidere to disrupt an open meeting designed to raise awareness of our initiative."
"We will not be deterred from highlighting the plight of the almost 300,000 non-citizens in the country who are currently denied their right to vote."
There are currently 295,000 stateless Russians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Poles and Jews living in the country who are unable to vote due to the country's citizenship laws. The Congress campaigns for reform of these laws to widen access to the democratic process. http://kongress.lv/
SOURCE Latvian Non-Citizens' Congress