“Treasure your vote – it is a privilege!”Conference, Monday 3rd MarchIt is your civic duty to vote in the European Parliament elections! 15% of the Latvian population does not have the right to do so.BackgroundWith the upcoming European elections in May 2014, the Latvian Non-Citizens Congress (LNCC), with the support of the International Foundation for Better Governance, a Brussels based NGO, is launching a pan-European support campaign aimed to encourage European voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote. The LNCC is a Latvian NGO defending the interests of the 300 000 non-citizens denied an electoral voice in their country and in the European Union.
2014 is a year of transition in terms of EU governance, with the appointment of new EU external action leaders, and a year of reflection. It is ten years since the big-bang enlargement of the Union to embrace countries from Central and Eastern Europe, including Latvia. It is a time to review the progress that has been so far and reflect on the remaining problems, especially in the field of human rights. To this day, 15% of the Latvian population is disenfranchised from public life. Although they are now earning salaries and paying their taxes in Euros, they have still no rights to participate in European or national elections.The panel of speakers will introduce the main objectives and goals of this campaign to encourage European voters to exercise their right to vote for their European Parliamentarians; they will analyse the evolution of Human Rights in the Baltic states in the past ten years. The meeting will call on European voters to decide their future and exercise their privilege of choice by making their vote count. Europe matters, the European Parliament matters and the balance of power in the EP matters. These are the first elections under the Lisbon Treaty. Europe is a way of life; it is a continent of values and fundamental rights which cannot be taken for granted. These values and rights must be protected, and the only way to do this is to make your voice heard by exercising your right to vote. The voices of 300 000 inhabitants of Latvia will not be heard - do not make the mistake of squandering your privileged opportunity.We invite EU experts, civil society leaders, media and representatives of non-governmental organizations to support the campaign for European citizens to vote in the European Parliament elections, and to reflect on citizenship issues for residents of the Baltic States who share a common vision for European values , who wish to belong and long for inclusion. What?: Campaign Launch “Treasure your vote – it is a privilege!” from 16:00 to 18:00When?: 3rd March (Monday)Where?: Brussels Press Club (96, Rue Froissart)Why?: Participants of the Campaign Launch will discuss the following questions:Speakers:Doug Henderson, former UK Minister for EuropeElizabete Krivcova, co-founder of the Latvian Non-Citizens Congress, lawyer Alexander Gaponenko, co-founder of the Latvian Non-Citizens Congress, Director of the Institute of European ResearchJames Wilson, Director of the International Foundation for Better Governance Programme: Opening statement by Elizabete Krivcova- “Why are we here today”- What is the Latvian Non-Citizens Congress- Background on Non-Citizens and especially on their voting situation- Introduction of the campaignKeynote Speech By Doug Henderson- Why Europe needs your vote?
Speech by James Wilson, International Foundation for Better Governance (IFBG)- Introduction of the IFBG - Why does your vote matter?- Why he co-founded this campaign with the Congress
The International Foundation for Better Governance AISBL is an International not for profit organisation registered in Brussels (en formation) for the purpose of promoting and lobbying for the rights of citizens, and defending their freedoms and rights enshrined in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. The organisation is registered under the European Commission’s Transparency Register, and is headquartered in Brussels from where it undertakes work to support national and international organisations that share its values. The organisation is entirely funded by membership subscriptions and by private donations from individuals and organisations that support the Mission of the Foundation.