The Polish Debate Club’s statement on the Federation of Kresy Organization’s open letter

The Polish Debate Club (Source: Facebook)

A few days ago, the Federation of Kresy Organization attacked publicly Marshal of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, Bogdan Borusewicz, for his criticism of pro-Russian leanings of Waldemar Tomaszewski’s, the leader of Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, and for his meeting with the Polish Debate Club in Vilnius during the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Lithuanian National Revival.

„(…) on March 11, you, Marshal of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, made an official visit to Lithuania, where you participated in the 25th anniversary of the restoration of the independence. During the visit, you found time for a two-hour meeting at the Polish Debate Club with a scarce, unrepresentative, and noisy group of Poles, who are radically critical of Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania. You, however, did not manage to find time, or to be precise, you devoted a very short audience at the airport’s VIP Room to a meeting with legitimate representatives of Poles in Lithuania, whose mandate had been spectacularly confirmed in the democratic election ten days earlier (…). Don’t you think, Marshal of the Senate, that by showing an ostentatious support for a small, unrepresentative, and, to be honest, breakaway group of Poles you in fact support Lithuanian chauvinists in their effort to lithuanise Lithuanian Poles? – can be read in the open letter issued by the Federation of Kresy Organization.

We are not in the position to respond to the so-called questions of the Federation of Kresy Organization as they were not directed to us. We think, however, that the letter of the Federation of Kresy Organization is connected not so much with the situation in the Polish community in Lithuania as with the election campaign that is under way in Poland and for whose benefit it was written. That is why we would like to clearly emphasize  that the Polish Debate Club is an apolitical organization and does not commit itself to any political campaigns. Neither in Lithuania, nor in any other country. We would like to ask the Federation of Kresy Organization, as well as other persons to respect our apolitical status and not to use the Club  for gaining additional votes or cheap PR.

At the same time, we would like to point it out that the assumptions about the Club, which were contained in the mentioned letter, are false and unjust, and that they classify for a legal action. The Polish Debate Club is neither “a group radically critical of Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania,” nor “breakaway”. It’s quite the opposite – we may perhaps not be that numerous, but most certainly we are the only Polish organization in Lithuania which brings all the Poles together. We create a place, a platform for discussion for all Poles, regardless of their political standpoints – whether they support Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania or whether they are critical of Waldemar Tomaszewski’s party, who, as the last election’s outcomes show, are not that few. At the meetings organized by the Club, the two groups meet in order to collectively seek for new ways and means of handling the interests of the Polish community in Lithuania. We have never, however, aspired to be anyone’s representatives.

The letter of the Federation of Kresy Organization stirred an acute reaction also in Lithuania. For example, a Polish activist in Lithuania, the member of the Liberal Movement, Renata Underis, accused the Federation of Kresy Organization of having written a lampoon and of being unaware of the danger which Russia led by Putin, which was chosen by the Federation of Kresy Organization  “as an instrument of our protection – Lithuanian Poles”, causes for the whole Europe. “I would like to thank on behalf of yet another group of Lithuanian Poles who cherish the success of the founders of the Polish Debate Club, and today with their thoughts and action support its activity – wrote Renata Underis on one of the social networks.

We understand Renata Underis’s indignation and we respect her  right to have and express her own opinion; however, we would like to emphasize that she is not and has never been a member of the Polish Debate Club. We are glad that she is willing to support us with her thoughts and action, and we invite her, as well as other Poles to further active participation in our discussions. At the same time, we would like to remind that the cornerstone of the Club’s philosophy and action is respect for opponents, regardless of what political standpoint they represent. We do not tolerate offending other people, and thus calling them “kolkhoz book-keepers” or “rural musicians.” We judge people by their actions, not by their occupations, nationalities, or political views.

Source: http://pl.delfi.lt/aktualia/litwa/oswiadczenie-polskiego-klubu-dyskusyjnego-w-sprawie-listu-otwartego-federacji-organizacji-kresowych.d?id=67674624

Tłumaczenie by Bruno Janiszewski w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Bruno Janiszewski within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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