There are over 18 000 non-governmental organizations in Lithuania, however their influence on many issues, e.g. passing various bills, has not been significant. The initiator of funding the Vilnius Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (Wileńska Rada Organizacji Pozarządowych) and the president of the Association ‘For Vilnius and the Nation’ (“Dla Wilna i Narodu”), Saulius Povilaitis, believes that establishing such a body will change this situation and NGOs representatives will have influence on decisions taken by the city and state authorities. Representatives of ethnic minorities are also to be members of the council.
The main stimulus to create the Council of Non-Governmental Organizations was the Act on the development of NGOs, which stipulates that in the newly-founded council all NGOs will be represented by 10 chosen organizations and 10 state institutions (ministries, departments, etc.). The Act also states that similar councils can be established locally, in cooperation with regional governments.
‘The voice of non-governmental organizations not always has been compatible; that is why not always it has been taken into consideration. However, now, when the participation of NGOs in passing bills and taking vital decisions is legitimate, I suppose that taking opinions of NGOs into account will be necessary. To be fair, NGOs will be jointly responsible for projects, implemented on both the national and local level, and they will be accountable to society’, said Saulius Povilaitis.
The representatives of the Vilnius organizations are signing the agreement on founding the Council of Non-Governmental Organizations on Monday, 16th of February, at 3 PM, in the city hall. Vilnius is going to be the first city where such an institution will be established. Several organizations have just announced they will join this initiative, however organizers decided to wait until the meeting, during which the agreement concerning the members of council will be signed.
The basic areas of the council’s activity will be as follows: national security and civic education, family issues, children education, socio-economic development of country; law, culture, science, environmental protection and many others. Saulius Povilaitis claims that all organizations belonging to the council will have experience and successes in the field of their activity, that is why the effects of their work should be measurable.
Ethnic minorities will be represented in the council by one member, appointed by the representatives of a few organizations. A representative of the Council of National Communities (Rada Wspólnot Narodowych) may become the member of the newly founded institution.
‘As NGOs were forgotten, ethnic minorities were also slightly neglected. I hope this will change. The representatives of ethnic minorities have a very positive attitude, they presented reasonable proposals, they want to engage fully in the actions taken by the Council. Their views are very constructive. It seems that problems and misunderstandings are created in the heads of politicians, and not these people who live in Vilnius for many years. According to the statistic, over half of families in Vilnius are mixed when it comes to nationality, so we are ‘grown together’. Of course, ethnic minorities require not only political focus, but also attention concerning their daily life, on the local level’, said Saulius Povilaitis.
Tłumaczenie by Joanna Stępińska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Joanna Stępińska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.