Russia must protect the Russian language and the right of Russian-speaking population to speak their native language in the countries of the former Soviet Union, the ambassador-at-large of the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Eleonora Mitrofanova, said at a round table on Russia's language policy, the correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza reports.
"According to the concept of Russia's foreign policy, the CIS countries are our priority in the field of security and in building a good-neighborly relations. Therefore, I believe that the development and legal consolidation of a certain status of Russian language in the Constitutions and practice of our nearest neighbors is our priority," she said.
"Of course, the Russian language still serves as a lingua franca, but not everywhere, even in Ukraine. I'm not talking about Georgia. Only our generation speaks it, but the young people speak only English. The same applies to the Baltic countries," Eleanora Mitrofanova said.
The diplomat reinforced her words with the official UN statistics. "In 2015, the CIS population excluding Russia totaled 138 million people, and according to experts, only 61 million are fluent in Russian and 35.6 million do not speak at all," she noted.
"From a legal point of view, the situation is particularly alarming in Latvia and Estonia," Eleanora Mitrofanova drew attention.
According to the diplomat, the Russian language issue does not fit in the plane of only the rights of national minorities. "There a large percentage of ethnic Russians in Ukraine, Estonia and Latvia, but within a generation we will come to the fact that their descendants will generally not speak Russian. I believe that we need to put the issue of granting the Russian language the legislative status in the countries of the former USSR to the highest level," the ambassador-at-large of the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs stressed.
In addition, she said that it would be a right thing to create an international association of Russian speakers.