The party of Polish minority is no longer in the government of Lithuania. This means that the another way of solving problems that Poles face in this country ran out.
It is scary to say but it could have been the last way.
Previously, the methods used by Warsaw turned out to be ineffective – firstly the goodwill was recognized, the support of Lithuania in matters of strengthening the independence and safety that were recovered almost a quarter of a century ago, with hope that this would contribute to change of the anti-Polish attitude of a substantial part of elites.
Then, when it turned out that the effect is the opposite because instead of changing the legislation to be more favourable to the Poles in Lithuania, it has become even more unfavourable for them – a breach with Vilnius.
Two years ago the minority party, the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, for the first time exceeded the five percent threshold in elections to the Lithuanian Seimas and introduced there many deputies. Due to that, it became the attractive player on the political scene and proceeded on equal basis with three other parties to the ruling coalition.
In the programme of the government with the participation of Poles there were plans to introduce legislation that would improve the situation of minorities. It seemed to be the best way to settle issues that spoil Polish-Lithuanian relations. Politics from AWPL had to settle them with Lithuanian colleagues, giving a chance for Warsaw and Vilnius to take care of what they have in common – the eastern politics, security politics and lessening its energy dependence from Russia.
For almost two years of the joint governance, all drafts of laws which were favourable to Poles, including the one in which it is mentioned about the usage of double names in regions where the minority is numerous, were not implemented.
Lithuanian politicians have used a tactic known for two decades: you have to wait, everything will end well, be patient!
AWPL lost its patience and withdrew from the coalition. The immediate cause was a dispute about Renata Cytacka, the Deputy of the Ministry of Energetics, overseen by esteemed minister, also a Pole, Jaroslav Neverovič. But the argument resulted from the conflict related to problems of minorities. Cytacka criticised the President Dalia Grybauskaitė for the fact that at the European Forum she falsely presents the situation of Poles in Lithuania.
After the bad experience in the coalition, the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania will radicalise and it will become a tough opposition which may help it in the local elections at the beginning of the next year. However, it means that it will fight more for votes of the Russian minority. The AWPL leader Waldemar Tomaszewski aroused horror in Warsaw parading with a ribbon of St. George, used by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. Now we can expect the further gestures towards Russians, that means the evidence that the part of the AWPL activity is not compatible with interests of Warsaw.
This will force the Polish authorities to find a way to support the Polish minority in the issues that are fundamental for them. Especially how to help the Polish education in Vilnius region which is becoming more and more limited and also in the capital, where every fourth resident is a Pole, and where the education is even threatened.
- On the occasion of leaving the party of Tomaszewski from the government, the Polish Foreign Ministry asserted that “the participation of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania in ruling coalition has never been and is not the subject to bilateral Polish-Lithuanian agreements at any level”. And it recalled that “Poland still expects the Lithuanian government to fulfil its obligations arising from international agreements relating to the safeguarding of European standards of protection of rights of the Polish minority in Lithuania”.
- And also the quote of the Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius, noticed by the Polish media in Lithuania, that led to the deposition of the minister Neverovič and consequently led AWPL to leave the coalition. It is related to education, although the Head of the Government apparently did not mean Polish schools because he still puts the skids under them.
“The school should educate a versatile personality, strengthen the national and civic consciousness”.
Tłumaczenie by Anna Piecha w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Anna Piecha within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.