On 1 December, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a meeting of the working group for diaspora policy, which featured a discussion between diaspora organisations and their cooperation partners on the accessibility of Latvia’s public service media to the diaspora and opportunities for supporting returning migrants. The participants assessed the findings of a study entitled “Return to Latvia” and shared views on other matters of high importance for the diaspora. The meeting was chaired by Atis Sjanīts, Ambassador-at-Large for the Diaspora at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ivars Belte, Chairman of the Board of the state-owned public service television company, Latvijas Televīzija, presented VISIEMLTV.LV, a web television channel for Latvians living abroad, and told about other activities already accomplished or being planned. Mr Belte stressed that news is of most interest for Latvians abroad since it provides them with a link to Latvia. He also urged to pay attention to the content of the sites accessible to the diaspora. Latvijas Televīzija is planning to set up a joint platform with the focus on culture, religion and topics for children. The company wishes to ensure that the diaspora has connection to national values of Latvia and to engage, via web television channels, with target audiences – Latvians across the globe.
Mirdza Lele, Head of the News Service of Latvijas Radio, noted that the diaspora, for a year already, has access to news in the so-called “plain language”. This way it is possible to reach out to people of Latvian background whose knowledge of Latvian is limited due to various reasons and to non-native speakers of Latvian. News in plain language are broadcast daily on Latvijas Radio and also offered on the www.lsm.lv portal.
Gunta Līdaka, member of the National Electronic Mass Media Council, told the working group that work has begun on a new public media strategy, a vital segment of which will target the diaspora.
In a discussion on the accessibility of Latvia’s public service media to Latvians abroad, it was asserted that members of the diaspora should be involved in content creation, programmes should also cover family-related topics thereby reaching out to bilingual families and the use of plain language should be supported in communication with the diaspora.
Inta Mieriņa, Director of the Centre for Diaspora Studies of the University of Latvia, presented the outputs of a study entitled “Return to Latvia”, the largest survey among remigrants: the ways to help those who have returned, job opportunities and access to information on labour market, and the returnees’ potential for contributing to growth in Latvia. The Director also provided an overview of research undertaken by the Centre for Diaspora Studies in 2016 with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The participants made note of the most significant findings of the study, while stressing the need to support remigrant families and increase the role of local authorities in the return migration process. The Investment and Development Agency of Latvia presented its strategy for work with the diaspora currently being developed with the aim of a more active involvement of members of the diaspora in Latvian economy.
The participants of the working group meeting also included Jānis Kukainis, Chairman of the World Federation of Free Latvians (WFFL), Kristaps Grasis, Chairman of the Board of the European Latvian Association (ELA), as well as representatives from the Ministries of Culture, Economy, and Education and Science, the Latvian Language Agency, the Association of Local and Regional Governments of Latvia, the Riga City Council, and the Society Integration Foundation.
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