INTEGRATION IN LATVIA: FLOWS AND EBBS IN NATIONAL AND EUROPEAN CONTEXT
AbstractRussian-speaking communities in the member states of the European Union (EU), especially the Baltic States and Germany, have earned special attention, in recent years, as subjects of important integration policies, on one hand, and the main targets of Russia’s propagandist efforts, on the other. Because a significant part of Russian-speaking communities accepted these efforts, questions were raised concerning the effectiveness of previous integration policies to strengthen the national identity and invoke a feeling of political togetherness. Thus the factors fostering and triggering integration and the relations between civic and ethnocultural components of integration are of wide interest. This paper presents a case study of Latvia, as a country with the highest share of Russian-speaking citizens among the EU member states and a clear prevalence of ethnocultural components in its integration policies in recent years. The study examines the successes and failures of the integration policies of Latvia during the last twenty-five years, using mainly direct observations and sociological data collected during the last twenty years. The results show that language knowledge, citizenship status, and socioeconomic conditions play an important role in integration. In addition, these factors appear more effective with development of inclusive political practices and civil society structures, cooperative discourse, and facilitation of mutual trust between ethnolinguistic communities.
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