4.2.7 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes
The competence of the population in the topic of intercultural dialogue in Latvia is limited. Although Latvian society is shaped by a wide variety of cultures, there is a lack of understanding and knowledge between groups, which stimulates further collective prejudices, stereotypes and intolerance.
In policy documents, interculturalism is understood as transnational collaboration, participation in networking and international co-operation instead of developing intercultural dialogue within the country. Although public policy documents include the principles of intercultural dialogue and stress the need for a dialogue, understanding and diversity on a political level, mainstream discourse supports the idea that the state has to strengthen national identity through policy measures. Integration is to be based on the official language (Latvian) that is stipulated in several documents, including the Official Language Law (2000) and the Electronic Mass Media Law (2010). From 2011, the Ministry of Culture is responsible for integration (see chapter 4.2.4). In 2011, Guidelines of National Identity, Civil Society and Integration Policy were adopted.
Meanwhile, part of the public and media discourse (see public policy site http://politika.lv) through research, publications and debate promotes interculturalism as a future strategy for the development in Latvia. Major debate concerns bilingual education (important changes introducing more lessons taught in the Latvian language in the Russian schools were carried out in 2004, which provoked resistance in society).
At present, the national policy towards intercultural dialogue and promotion of tolerance is being implemented by various state and local authorities and NGOs active in the field of human rights and diversity. Among the key actors are:
- The Ministry of Culture (http://www.km.gov.lv);
- The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (http://www.pmlp.gov.lv/en/);
- The Latvian Society Integration Foundation (http://www.lsif.lv);
- Office of the Ombudsman (http://www.tiesibsargs.lv);
- Centre for Public Policy Providus (http://www.providus.lv/public/index_en.html);
- Latvian Centre for Human Rights (http://www.humanrights.org.lv/html/);
- The Public Policy site (http://politika.lv).
Intercultural projects are not a common practice for cultural institutions. Such projects were encouraged and supported by The European Year of Intercultural Dialogue (EYID) 2008. However, the majority of these activities will probably not be repeated. See examples of integration programmes in chapter 4.2.4.
Chapter published: 08-10-2014