In July next year, the Department of National Minorities that was liquidated 4 years ago in Lithuania will start to function again. On Monday, the Strategic Committee of the Lithuanian Government agreed for the revitalisation of the institution that will be subject to Government. The Department will co-operate with national minorities and it will conduct studies on ethnic policy and it will influence it.
“A special department has to be established, for example because the questions connected with national minorities are still topical in domestic policy and they are sensitive topics in the relations with some neighbouring countries. That is why the department who will start to function next year will not only co-operate with state and local offices and non-governmental organisations but also with other countries and diplomatic posts whose representatives live in Lithuania,” Algirdas Butkevičius is quoted in a press release.
The department will also co-operate on a governmental level with the UN, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, European Union and international institutions that deal with the issues connected with national minorities. The department will also spread the information about the policy of Lithuania with regard to national minorities.
The government admits that the come back of the Department of National Minorities happened faster thanks to the Advisory Committee of the Council of Europe which emphasized many times that the liquidation of the Department of National Minorities and Emigration of the Lithuanian Government had negative results.
The Department of National Minorities and Emigration was liquidated on the 1st of January 2010. The functions of the institution were transferred to the resorts of culture, education and science and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Ministry of Culture has been responsible for the policy connected with national minorities since the 1st of January 2010. In the Department of National Minorities and Emigration, the issues connected with national minorities were coordinated by 15 people and after the liquidation of the institution it was 5. The Government says that the National Minorities department in the Ministry of Culture is not a sufficient representation of the affairs of national minorities, especially on international level.
Almost 16 per cent of Lithuanian population are national minorities. The most numerous minority are Poles (235-300 thousand people).
Tłumaczenie by Marta Wojtowicz w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Marta Wojtowicz within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.