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Европейский Союз и Этнополитика: Пример Латвии и Эстонии (European Union and Ethno-Politics: The Example of Latvia and Estonia)

30 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2012 Last revised: 21 Oct 2013

Dimitry Kochenov

University of Groningen - Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 25, 2012


This article written in the Russian language traces the involvement of European integration in the protection of the Russian-speaking minority in the Baltic States of Latvia and Estonia. Two main aspects of such involvement are scrutinized, including the pre-accession involvement of the Union in the promotion of change in the two Baltic republics; and the analysis of the systemic influence of European integration as such on the development of minority policies in the Baltic States in the near- to medium-term future. The first aspect (discussed in Part III) is concerned with the EU’s involvement with the Baltic States in the pre-accession context, where the principle of conditionality was deployed. Although the Commission – the Institution of the Union largely responsible for the practical implementation of the principle – can be criticized for failing to promote serious change, some important results have been achieved. The second aspect (discussed in Part II) evolved around three crucial areas of Union’s involvement: its promotion of free movement of EU citizens around the whole territory of the Union coupled with a quasi-absolute guarantee of non-discrimination on the basis of nationality; the respect by the Union of the culture, languages, and traditions of the Member States; and the Union’s nascent and mostly weak minority protection policy. As a combination, the trio functions in a liberating vein, since it limits the ability of the Member States to intervene in the ordinary lives lived by EU citizens, pushing States to accept EU citizens as they are. In other words, the very essence of the EU integration project leaves no place to valid “ethnicity” or “nationality” considerations, prohibiting discrimination and thus profoundly disturbing ethno-nationalist projects fancied by some Member States. In this context the style of minority-majority relations in the Baltic States is bound to be changed profoundly, if not entirely, under the influence of European integration. This will potentially open up the way to a new Latvia and a new Estonia of the future, once the liberating ideology of the European integration project comes to be fully realized and harkened in both Member States concerned.

Notes: Downloadable document is in Russian.

Keywords: Estonia, Latvia, EU, law, minority protection, discrimination, equality, EU citizenship, culture, linguistic discrimination, nationality

Suggested Citation

Kochenov, Dimitry, Европейский Союз и Этнополитика: Пример Латвии и Эстонии (European Union and Ethno-Politics: The Example of Latvia and Estonia) (July 25, 2012). University of Groningen Faculty of Law Research Paper. Available at SSRN: or

Dimitry Kochenov (Contact Author)

University of Groningen - Faculty of Law ( email )

Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat 26
Groningen, 9712 EK

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