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Guards of democracy from Strasbourg will evaluate compliance of democratic principles during the ATR

The Monitoring Committee of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (CLRAE) has decided, on the basis of a letter from the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments (LALRG), to organise a fact-finding visit to Latvia to gain an in-depth understanding of the violations of the European Charter of Local Self Government in Latvia, to which LALRG refers.

29 Octobre, at the 37th Plenary Session of the CLRAE, a Monitoring Committee meeting took place, where Gints Kaminskis, Chairman of the LALRG informed members of the Monitoring Committee on the situation in Latvia regarding administrative territorial reform (ATR) and Charter violations. Chairman of the Monitoring Committee, Leendert Verbeek, informed that as the monitoring report on the situation with local and regional democracy in Latvia in March 2018 was positive, it was decided to react immediately to the current situation. Congress will send a letter to Minister of the Environment Protection and Regional Development, Juris Pūce, asking for comment on the concerns raised in the letter. It was also decided to organize a congressional delegation fact-finding visit to Latvia in early December.

“The European Charter of Local Self Government, which has been ratified also by Government of Latvia, stipulates that the right of local communities - societies, to decide the boundaries of their own territory must also be respected. In a democratic country, there can be no debate as to whether or not citizens have the right to express their views. Citizens in the local governments and the state as a whole have the right to decide, to express their views, and this opinion must be taken into account. The Charter also speaks of ensuring the interests of citizens, but in the context of ATR in Latvia is happening all in opposite way: consultations with citizens on the part of the ministry were organized in a formal way without providing specific answers to very specific questions. When urgent issues are being addressed, the interests of the citizens are forgotten. Such an attitude violates the basic principles of democracy, which is also stated in the letter,” emphasises Gints Kaminskis.

LALRG sent a letter to the President of the Congress - Anders Knape at the beginning of October, "About threats to local and regional democracy in Latvia", which the Congress immediately responded to, adding it to the agenda of the Congress Bureau and Monitoring Committee. The letter specifies violations of the Charter, both as regards the ATR and other matters, based on facts and figures.

The 37th Plenary Session of the European Congress of Local and Regional Authorities takes place from 28 to 31 October in Strasbourg (France), this time the theme is "Mayors safeguarding democracy". Delegation of Latvia is represented by Gints Kaminskis, Chairman of the LALRG; Andris Rāviņš, Chairman of Jelgava City Council, and Ināra Silicka, Chairwoman of the Kārsava Municipality.