Nevertheless, there are still many
controversial issues which can easily lead to the raising of new inter-ethnic conflicts.
For example, on October 22, the Estonian Parliament decided not to discuss the amendments
of the electoral laws which require a certain linguistic knowledge in both local and
general spheres for candidates to occupy public posts. The opposition "Peoples
Union" party has proposed to postpone the discussion whereas the Center Party has
suggested that the Minister of Foreign Affairs should report on such amendments. These
amendments are part of the Estonian actions aimed at convincing the OSCE, which has
criticised its linguistic policy in their last report on this state.
is fundamental to involve Russian linguistic and cultural minorities in the formulation,
adoption, application and evaluation of protection policies, as well as policies fostering
their rights at international, national and local levels. The effective participation of
these communities constitutes a necessary element for a better management of the human,
social and economic resources of the area, as well as for the exercise of a better control
of the actions of the local governments in order to guarantee the equality of rights and
the non-discrimination for all the parties involved. Obviously, the great variety of
aspirations and the huge ethnic and cultural complexity of the area demand that the most
suitable mechanisms to create the necessary conditions for stimulating a real and
effective participation of the local populations in public affairs, according to the
peculiarities of each of the Republics, are identified in the most rigorous and proper
participation will only be possible within a context that respects the universal values of
human rights, including cultural, social and economic rights, as a sine qua non condition
for the exercise of these and other rights. It is therefore extremely urgent, among other
things, that the peripheral regions of Russia can begin to design and apply relevant
strategies in the areas like the promotion of autochthonous languages and cultures, the
construction of civil societies and the prevention of interethnic conflicts in order to
guarantee the development of minority languages, the increase in economic activities and
the improvement in living conditions, the strengthening of local social networks, the
consolidation of some emergent civil societies and a sustainable local development.
As I see it, the
promotion of autochthonous languages and the strengthening of civil societies must mainly
aim at increasing the relationships between democracy and national identity: the promotion
of values such as tolerance, the setting-up of educational systems that disseminate
messages of pacific cohabitation and mutual understanding, based more on cultural
identities than on national identities, and the implementation of policies which stimulate
local development constitute essential elements to reinforce the prevention of conflicts
and the improvement of the well-being of the peripheral populations of Russia.
fostering a peaceful cohabitation, an harmonic multiculturalism and a sustainable
development are the main challenges that the regions of Russia have to face today, very
specially those of the Northern Caucasus and Siberia. In order to guarantee their
development, credible and effective policies have to be set in motion so as to reinforce
the links among the autochthonous populations and the European regions and institutions
(very especially the European Union and the Council of Europe), as well as with the
NGOs that may develop a twofold role as mediators and promoters to help the local
social partners to design and apply flexible and realistic initiatives using their own
resources. Only in this way may we help to prevent Russia and all the former Soviet
republics from undergoing new wars such as those of Kosovo and Chechnya.
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