„There often lacks a deeper discernment in assessment of Polish-Lithuanian relations or attitudes of national minorities in Lithuania, and these are highly related to the standard of living of these groups, the age structure, place of residence. This all translates to attitude to the Lithuanian majority, to the state, to one’s perspectives”, says a principal of the Institute of Labour and Social Research Bogusław Grużewski in an interview for Polish Radio, commenting on the results of a survey conducted by Baltijos Tyrimai on request of the news agency ELTA. The research shows, among other things, that citizens of Lithuania, especially representatives of the Polish national minority, still have a pessimistic view of future of Lithuania, despite of changes in the government.
“Formally, studies of such nature are not directly based on today’s situation. People respond according to their perspective, but they actually make use of information, their own experience, this is why radical changes, such as elections, do not change views of an average citizen. We can say that formally we have a new government, but in reality, for the average citizen it does not matter. The research reflects the situation of last 3-5 years, basing on which a person perceives their reality”, explains Bogusław Grużewski.
“On the one hand, there is nothing to be optimistic about, because there are no particular decisions of the new parliament, on the other – the past influences attitude of respondents. Last three terms always had a good start and a less attractive finish. More than 60% of citizens hadn’t had any tangible benefit from changes introduced by previous governments and only the situation of about 30% has improved”, adds the scientist.
As he notes, the specificity of Lithuania, but also of other developed countries, is that economic growth does not influence standards of living of citizens.
“Since 10 years Lithuania has recorded buoyant economical growth, in economical terms we recovered quickly even after the crisis, but it does not translate into social development. For example, the average GDP of 75% per one citizen in Lithuania is 75% of the EU average, in Poland – 69%. At the same time the average wage in Poland is about 200€ higher, the retirement pension is also much higher. In Lithuania we note significant differences in standards of living, which creates tension for vulnerable social groups”, emphasizes Grużewski.
According to the sociologist, this economical pessimism of local Poles may be stimulated with the tension which remains in the context of the Polish minority in Lithuania.
“There are some signals that the new government will be more well-disposed, the EAPiL – ChFA is positive towards the new Seimas majority, there are some common program assumptions. However, in studies people are guided mostly by their emotions and the evaluation of the future. The current situation will be able to be examined after one year, more or less”, says Bogusław Grużewski.
Unfortunately, for the Poles in Lithuania perception of economical perspectives is also influenced by other factor – lower education, lower income, unemployment – all of this concerns the Polish minority outside Vilnius, in Vilnius things are different”, notes the scientist.
Tłumaczenie by Agnieszka Drabik w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Agnieszka Drabik within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.