Latvia's language policy

27.07.2018. 14:54

The Latvian Constitution and laws guarantee and protect the rights of persons belonging to national minorities so that they can preserve and develop their language, and their ethnic and cultural identity.

State Language Law is aimed at preservation, protection and development of the Latvian language, but at the same time provides for the integration of national minorities in the society of Latvia by observing their rights to use their native language or any other language.

In accordance with the State Language Law the State’s institutions shall use the Latvian language as official language of communication. With regard to the use of language in private sector, State does not interfere in this area, unless the activities of a private organization or enterprise affect the lawful interests of the public.

It should be emphasized that the language landscape in Latvia is rich and diverse; different media and information sources are widely available in the public sphere.  There are around 40 newspapers and 30 magazines in Latvia which are published in  Russian, as well as the state finances one radio and one TV channel broadcasting for ethnic minorities` audience, mostly Russian. Russian TV channels are available on cable television throughout the territory of Latvia.

 

Additional information

On 18 February 2012 a referendum was held in Latvia where a large majority of voters rejected constitutional amendments that would make Russian the second state language.

The referendum prompted a high turnout: 71.1% of Latvia's eligible voters participated in the referendum. Results were clear: only 17 % of eligible voters voted in favor of adopting Russian as the second state language. No substantive complaints about the conduct of referendum were received.

The referendum reaffirmed that sensitive issues can be addressed through democratic means, and that work will continue towards developing an open and consolidated society on the basis of European democratic values and Latvian as the only state language.