Statelessness: Challenging the “Europeaness” in the Baltics

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Anya Gromilova, Metropolitan University Prague, International Relations and European Studies Department (IRES)

    After the successful “return” to Europe – the regaining of independence from Russia in the beginning of the 90s – Latvia and Estonia were quite successful in dealing with a vast number of issues related to their years under communism (changing forms of their governments, liberalizing the market etc.). Nevertheless, together with the independence came the dilemma of what to do with a large number of Russians (by ethnicity), people who decided to stay in these countries after the breakaway. According to some estimates Russian minority formed about 29% of the total number of population in Estonia and about 33% of the population in Latvia. The Citizenship and Language Laws adopted in these countries in the middle of the 90s did not improve the legal status of non-citizens and Russia has been continuously demanding to stop discrimination against its minorities living in the Baltic States. At the same time, the Council of Europe had went a long way introducing the far-reaching human rights instruments and has been lately actively calling to protect stateless people claiming that “no one should be stateless in today’s Europe”. The ongoing integration in the EU shows us that the domestic policies are becoming more and more shaped by decisions made at the level of main European institutions. Nevertheless, the question of whether this is happening to a sufficient extent in Estonia and Latvia, remains open.
    In this paper I will use the concept of Europeanization and will concentrate more specifically on what Olsen in his article The Many Faces of Europeanization labelled as “domestic effect of Europeanization”: analysis of how the domestic institutions deal with the pressures coming from the European level. This paper will thus concentrate on the pressure coming from the European level to sort out the problem of “statelessness” on its territory. The comparative analysis of how European values and policy paradigms are internalized at the domestic level in Latvia and Estonia will help to cast further light on the challenges to the political identities of these countries. Moreover, this paper will show how despite the Europe’s general move towards the better protection of the human rights, Latvia and Estonia’s treatment of non-citizens can indicate some signs of resentment towards Europeanization there.