“I will strive for the reset of relations with Poland”- says since a few weeks in every second interview Saulius Skvernelis, the new prime minister of Lithuania. Whether or not he will manage to do that depends on several factors. Firstly, whether such a reset is wanted also in Poland, and secondly, whether our countries find a common ground to work, on which closer mutual cooperation will be needed.
Proclaimed by Warsaw isthmus or three seas initiative conceptions did not move beyond the frames of declaration. Also, what the attitude of LLRA will be towards the new Lithuanian government. If the protest action be still continued, or maybe common conservative values preponderate.
What will the new Lithuanian government do in the case of so called Polish postulates. Meanwhile if it comes to that last issue we can only predict from the governmental project that was presented on the 6th of December to the Parliament by Saulius Skvernelis. Experts who were secretly counting before the elections that the “green peasants” will just give a few votes to the centre-right coalition and let Landsbergis Jr. to become a prime minister, are concerned and say that the programme is so general that it is impossible to attach everything under its assumptions.
In reality the government’s programme should only contain programme declarations, general directions and priorities, and life will turn out the way it wants to somehow. All governmental programmes until 2008 were such general ones. It is Andrius Kubilius who changed that Lithuanian policy tradition- the programme of his government was extremely detailed and all in all it was not fully performed because the economic crisis made them to solve things in a different way than it was assumed (I was taking part in writing a piece that depends judicature and rule of law) in November 2008 writing it. In this sense the programme presented by Skvernelis is a compromising option. It is detailed enough in some issues but also really general in other issues. The most general it is actually if it comes to issues concerning national minorities.
According to previous predictions of vice-president of Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union Tomas Tomilinas, in governmental programme there was a note reported by the social-democrats about the education of national minorities. In point 127.3 ruling coalition announces: “We will support the cultural activity of national minorities, we will prepare and make to come into force the programme of maintain cultural heritage of national minorities. We will do everything in order to provide schools for national minorities with adequate material and human resources”.
And that is basically the only direct reference to problematic aspects of national minorities in the programme. Apparently, in other issues (the original spelling of names and surnames, national minorities’ Bill) coalition members did not manage to find common language and left them- according to the former predictions- to the cross-party coalitions that were forming in the parliament. The fact that such coalitions have rights to exist proved that yesterday’s voting on amendments to the Bill on in-vitro- the new parliament accepted amendments reported by the “green peasants” ordering the conservation of frozen embryos for indefinite time on the first reading. Whether or not this project will become a fact, we shall see, but even now the non-formal world view coalition is clearly visible in Lithuanian Parliament and it is as influential as the official peasant-social-democratic one- “green peasants”, conservatives, LLRA and “Order and Justice” were voting for the amendments project, and against the project- just the liberals and social-democrats.
In-vitro issue is not the only one in which the coalition might count on LLRA’s support. In programme of Saulius Skvernelis’ government there is more assumptions that come along with the LLRA’s policy. The government announces decentralisation and the development of regions (only new regional division might seem a concerning issue- programme assumes creating of 2-3 new regions, based on the Lithuanian ethnography criterion, and Vilnius as a separate urban region), bigger financial independence (including fiscal one) of self-governments, investing in regions not only from the European Union’s sources, but also from the country’s budget, supporting local community’s initiatives, pro-family policy, and ending the agricultural reform, what means all for which LLRA solicits (that activists multiple times were saying that national minorities’ problems will “somehow dissolve by themselves” (we hope that the party’s bosses do not have in their minds so called natural demographic solution- according to data of Lithuanian Department of Statistics currently in Lithuania lives just 163 thousands of Poles which means that during the last 5 years there are another 40 thousand less!). So, the ground for cooperation exists.
More is said not about relations with Lithuanian Poles in the governmental programme, but about relations with Poland. In some fields the government announces moving Polish experiences into the Lithuanian ground (for instance if it comes to health care), but most importantly the continuation until now infrastructural projects: the gas linkage with Poland construction, Via Baltica and also “Rail Baltica” (“Building of “Rail Baltica” in Poland and in Latvia will become a priority in relations between those countries. “Rail Baltica” is to start functioning in the whole Lithuania in 2025”). In point 102.2 of programme the government announces mutual fight along with Poland for the fastest possible alignment of donations for farmers from the European Union’s funds, in point 335.3- tight cooperation with Poland in the field of defence and security. “On the basis of mutual economical interests and in the field of security along with mutual respect rule we will be striving to make an open dialogue and cooperation with Poland in order to solve the existing problems”- announces the programme in point 305. It is hard to assess how much Warsaw is interested in such cooperation and dialogue.
To sum up: there was very little space devoted for the relations with Poland and Poles in Lithuania in the new government’s programme, however the will to reset and closer cooperation with Warsaw is quite clear. The guarantee of striving for such reset is to be renewed appointment of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius who on the one hand is said to be the most pro-Polish politician on the Lithuanian politic stage, but on the other hand… to be Dalia Grybauskaitė’s man. So all in all it will not be just striving with the help of another declarations, another reset on paper? We shall see very soon. “You will know them by their fruits”- says one important book.
Tłumaczenie by Agnieszka Bladowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Agnieszka Bladowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.