Diaspora support plan gets cabinet approval

A five-year plan to bolster Latvian communities abroad and to provide information about opportunities in the homeland has been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in Rīga, the Minister for Special Assignments for Social Integration Affairs has announced.

Already this year the plan foresees spending on several programs to aid the Latvian diaspora, the social integration affairs minister’s office said in a press release. Among projects is a database of Latvian organizations and a handbook for Latvians abroad that would include information about how to repatriate, study in Latvia or gain Latvian citizenship.

“Having been born abroad, I know how difficult it is to maintain ties with Latvia,” Nils Muižnieks, the social integration affairs minister, said in the press release. “Latvia now has developed so far that it can take on a certain amount of responsibility for maintaining Latvian identity outside of Latvia.”

The Cabinet of Ministers gave its approval Oct. 5.

The plan was announced in July after the social integration affairs office had met with diaspora community leaders in the West and in Russia.

The diaspora support program foresees work in five general areas:

  • Activities aimed at “preserving and developing ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious identity.” These would include such activities as support for teachers in and clergy visits to Siberia, as well as increased funding for summer schools and camps such as 3×3.
  • Developing and serving the information needs of the diaspora. For example, the program calls for aiding mass media in the Latvian diaspora, as well as creation of a unified database of Latvian organizations.
  • Fostering links between diaspora communities and the homeland through publication of booklets about the diaspora and convening of a conference on issues facing Latvian society and the diaspora.
  • Promoting Latvia’s image abroad by supporting Latvian culture, traditions and art. Activities would include organizing “Latvia Days” in the largest diaspora communities, as well as providing communities with folk costumes.
  • Facilitating cooperation between the diaspora and local governments and institutions in Latvia.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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