“It’s good that recently there have been some positive signs to restore the dialogue between Poland and Lithuania, however, it’s not enough. What we need are concrete decisions made by our national authorities to solve problems of the Polish community”, Waldemar Tomaszewski said after a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Linas Linkevičius.
The meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the leader of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania [Polish: Akcja Wyborcza Polaków na Litwie; AWPL], a leader of the parliamentary faction of AWPL, Rita Tamašunienė, and a chairman of a Polish-Lithuanian parliamentary group, Michał Mackiewicz, was initiated by the Minister himself, who is going to visit Warsaw at the beginning of February.
During the Friday meeting, the politicians discussed still unsolved problems of Poles in Lithuania: the issues of bilingual streets signs in places where substantial Polish communities reside, the problems of Polish education in Lithuania, the original spelling of Polish surnames in Lithuanian documents,and the land return process in Vilnius Region.
“During our discussion, we stressed that the problems of bilingual street signs and education could be solved very quickly by restoring laws that had been in force only few years ago”, said Tomaszewski.
The Law on national minorities concerning the use of national minorities’ language, including bilingual street signs, was accepted – stressed the leader of AWPL – “when Lithuania regained its independence on January 29, 1991, under the leadership of the current leader of the conservatives, Vytautas Landsbergis”. At the beginning of the year 2010, when the conservatives were in power, the law was revoked. The members of Seimas have not discussed any new law regulating the issues of the national minorities yet.
As far as education is concerned, in 2011 the Parliament of Lithuania accepted a law which, according to the members of Polish community, discriminated Polish education in Lithuania. The law standardized the Matura exam in Lithuanian for Lithuanian schools as well as for schools of national minorities. It is worth stressing that the curriculum is different in both types of schools.
“On the basis of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the situation of national minorities cannot be deteriorated, however, we can observe clear regression”, indicated Tomaszewski.
The politician judged the meeting with the Minister before his visit in Warsaw positively, however, he emphasized that “there are only words but no concrete actions”.
Tłumaczenie Karolina Rolka w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Karolina Rolka the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.