On 26 May 2005, the Saeima (the Latvian Parliament) ratified the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe (the Convention). The term “national minorities” not being defined in the Convention, the Saeima decided that it, in the meaning of the Convention, shall “apply to citizens of Latvia who differ from Latvians in terms of their culture, religion or language, who have traditionally lived in Latvia for generations and consider themselves to belong to the State and society of Latvia, who wish to preserve and develop their culture, religion or language”.

When defining the concept of ‘national minorities’, Latvia relied on definitions by the States Parties to the Convention, adding an important element – unless specific exceptions are prescribed by the law, “persons who are not citizens of Latvia or another State but who permanently and legally reside in the Republic of Latvia, do not belong to a national minority within the meaning of the Convention as defined in the declaration submitted by Latvia, but who identify themselves with a national minority that meets the definition contained in the declaration, enjoy the rights prescribed in the Convention”.

Upon ratifying the Convention, the Saeima also adopted two declarations stating that Latvia regards Paragraph 2 of Article 10 and Paragraph 3 of Article 11 of the Convention governing the use of certain minority languages in topographical indications and communication with administrative authorities as binding as far as they do not contradict the Satversme (Constitution of Latvia) and other laws and regulations effective in the Republic of Latvia governing the use of the official language.

On 9 October 2023 the Convention's Consultative Committee adopted its fourth opinion on Latvia (Opinion) and on 22 February 2024 it was published on the Council of Europe website together with Latvia's comments on the Opinion, available here: Specific monitoring in Latvia of the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities - National Minorities (FCNM) (coe.int). Work is currently underway on the adoption of the respective Committee of Ministers (Deputy level) Resolution. The adoption of the Resolution will conclude the fourth monitoring cycle under the Convention. The Latvian Government will continue its dialogue with the Consultative Committee during the next cycle of monitoring the implementation, which will begin upon the submission of the national report.

The previous third cycle resolution on the implementation of the Convention by Latvia was adopted on 3 March 2021. The Resolution welcomes positive developments achieved by Latvia in the field of societal integration, including:

  • providing support to adults for learning Latvian language, as the result of which, more than 90% of respondents whose first language is Russian know Latvian;
  • broad support for national minorities’ cultural events, which has promoted the preservation and development of their cultural identities;
  • a varied media environment with broad and diverse content of traditional and electronic media in languages spoken by national minorities;
  • support for national minority education programmes: Latvia continues providing funding for national minority education in seven languages (Russian, Belarusian, Estonian, Hebrew, Lithuanian, Polish or Ukrainian); in addition, funding for minority education programmes has increased over recent years given the increased cost of educational process and the needs of schools with small numbers of students; 
  • diminishing the number of non-citizens, for instance, by making the naturalisation process easier for various groups of society as well as granting Latvian citizenship to all new-born children.

At the same time, Latvia has received a number of recommendations on ensuring a more effective enjoyment of minority rights, for instance, encouragement to continue with the integration policy, promote effective participation of persons belonging to national minorities in public affairs, step up efforts to prevent discrimination against Roma, and improve Roma youth access to education. These recommendations are of an advisory nature.