, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 3-19

Ethnicity and language tensions in Latvia

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This article discusses important domestic and international consequences of language policy in Latvia. The first section briefly discusses the changing demographic situation in Latvia from 1940 to the present. The second section analyzes the debates related to the citizenship law and language law played by the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE), the European Union (EU), and the Council of Europe (CoE). The third section traces the debate on language legislation, with particular emphasis on the role of the school law that required that students at minority (mostly Russian-speaking) secondary schools change to a substantially Latvian language format in 2004. Finally, I will evaluate and discuss recent attitudes on language, education and culture of the Latvian and Russian language communities.