Władysław Wojnicz, vice-principal of the Polish Cultural Center in Vilnius, has been elected new vice-chairman of the National Communities Council operating by the Department of National Minorities in Lithuania. Gunta Rone, representative of the Latvian Community, has been elected chairperson, and Marytė Maslauskaitė, representative of the German Community in Kaunas, the second vice-chairperson.
The elections of new management board of the National Communities Council of Lithuania were the main goal of the first meeting of its members, elected by particular communities for the next, this time for-year-long, term of office for the years 2015-2019. From now on, the Council will be more numerous – instead of 24, there will be 26 representatives of national minorities, and the biggest communities – Polish and Russian – have 3 representatives, Belorussian and Ukrainian – 2 representatives, the remaining 16 national communities – 1 representative for each community, however, e.g. Romanians and Moldovans do not have their own delegates. In contrast, there was a split in the environment of Lithuanian Tatars resulting in difficulties in selecting even one common delegate. Apart from the traditional national minorities, such as Jews or Karaites, the Council also associates more exotic representatives such as: Kazakhs, Chechens, Uzbeks, the Lebanese, Bulgarians, and Azeris.
Władysław Wojnicz, chairman of the Latvian Association in Vilnius, and Gunta Rone, head of the Latvian Social Organizations Council in Lithuania, were appointed to the position of a new chairperson. Mahir Gamzajev, representative of the Azeri Community, suggested that the head of the Council should be Polish as it is the Polish community issues that are currently the number one topic in the Lithuanian political life and it is just these issues that are the most controversial, but the vice-principal of the Polish Cultural Center (DKP) stated that for these reasons it would be better for all national minorities if the chairperson of the entire organization was a person who would not be accused of partiality and acting for the benefit of only one community.
The decision was accepted. Gunta Rone gained 21 out of 22 votes from the representatives of national minorities and she was elected new chairperson of the Council. She right away offered Wojnicz to become her deputy, which was also accepted with widespread approval.
After a short discussion, Marytė Maslauskaitė, representative of the German Community in Kaunas, was elected the second vice-chairperson.
On this occasion, the statute of the National Communities Council was completed with an entry that not only Lithuanian citizens, but every citizen of the European Union permanently residing in Lithuania, so the one having e.g. the right to vote in local elections, can be elected member of the management board.
The guests of the first session of the newly chosen Council were: Halina Kobeckaitė, its founder and the first chairperson, and Vida Montvydaitė, current head of the Department of National Minorities in Lithuania. the National Communities Council of Lithuania is the only official representative of national minorities operating by the Lithuanian government, more precisely – the Department of National Minorities, which has recently been separated from the Ministry of Culture and is currently subject to the Chancellery of the Prime Minister. However, the National Communities Council is only an advisory body without greater powers or influences on the authorities’ politics in relation to national minorities. Polish community in Lithuania is represented in the Council by: Władysław Wojnicz, Grzegorz Sakson, and Walenty Wojniłło.
Based on: own information
Tłumaczenie by Diana Dymel w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Diana Dymel within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.