24 October 1994
OPINION on the application by Latvia for membership of the Council of Europe1
(Rapporteur: Mr TOSHEV, Bulgaria, European Democratic Group)
1. Latvia has been determined and successful in achieving independence from the former USSR and gaining international recognition.
The principal stages were as follows:
- Declaration of Independence of 21 August 1991.
- Reinstatement of the 1922 Constitution establishing parliamentary democracy.
- Application to join the Council of Europe on 13 September 1991. The Committee of Ministers asked the Parliamentary Assembly to give an opinion in accordance with Statutory Resolution (51) 30 A.
- Special guest status was granted to the Latvian Parliament on 18 September 1991.
- Organisation of free and democratic parliamentary elections on 5 - 6 June 1993. These elections were observed by a Council of Europe delegation. During its meeting in Riga in January 1993, the Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries was informed that all political groupings in Latvia were in favour of early accession of the country to the Council of Europe.
- Adoption by the Saeima (Parliament) on 22 July 1994 of the "Law on citizenship", which amended the texts examined on 25 November 1993, 9 and 21 June 1994. This law was drawn up with the assistance of Council of Europe experts and includes their observations.
- Examination of provisions on the status of "non-citizens" in consultation of Council of Europe experts.
- Signature of the European Cultural Convention on 7 May 1992 and the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production on 27 September 1993; moreover Latvia has been invited to become a party to seven other Council of Europe conventions.
- Participation of Latvia in a number of co-operation programmes of the Council of Europe.
2. The Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries closely monitored Latvia's progress towards independence; it held a meeting in Riga as soon as March 1990.
3. The report by the judge of the European Court of Human Rights, Mr de Meyer, and the member of the European Commission of Human Rights, Mr Rozakis, on Latvia's legislation was published on 20 January 1992 with positive conclusions.
Many visits have been paid to Latvia by the rapporteurs of the Assembly as well as the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
4. Latvia signed an agreement with Russia on the withdrawal of the Russian troops, which was achieved by 31 August 1994.
5. At its meeting on 6 October 1994 in Strasbourg the Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries agreed with the Political Affairs Committee draft opinion on Latvia's application for membership of the Council of Europe, in particular paragraph 10 which:
"Recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
i) invite Latvia to join the Council of Europe,
ii) invite Latvia to appoint three Representatives to the Parliamentary Assembly."
Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee (Doc. 7169).
Committee for opinion: Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries.
Reference to committee: Doc. 6506 and Reference No. 1752 of 25 September 1991.
Opinion approved by the committee on 6 October 1994.
Secretary to the committee: Mr Dufour.
1 11. See Doc. 7169.