Latvia vote to revive debate on Russian as EU language
Arvamus 16 Feb 2012  EWR
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Andrew Rettman, EUObserver
BRUSSELS - A referendum on making Russian an official language in Latvia has raised the dim possibility of it also becoming an official language of the EU.

The country's Central Election Commission (CEC) in Latvia itself predicts the poll, on 18 February, will be a non-starter. A CEC spokeswoman, Kristine Berzina, told EUobserver on Tuesday (14 February) that "the level for the vote is so high it will never happen."

According to the rules, half of all voters in Latvia - 1.5 million people - must turn out in order to get a quorum and half of all 1.5 million must vote Yes to get a positive result. Around one third of Latvians are Russian speakers. But in some rural communities the figure is 60 percent.

If the bid comes through, it will put pressure on Riga to take a step at EU level.

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