“As a local government we have always sought to create a free economic zone here, on the border of Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. We have written a great deal of letters to authorities, including the government of Andrius Kubilius, and answers have always been negative” – said Józef Rybak, the director of the Local Government Administration of the Šalčininkai Region in an interview for Polish Radio for Abroad.
“During election campaign we could hear different statements: that it is necessary to show greater interest in the region, that residents are behind the times, with pro-Kremlin or pro-Russian attitudes and that it is important to spread education. People living here feel irritated because we move around the country and we know where it’s at. Šalčininkai is one of three towns in Lithuania – excluding big cities – where the rate of natural increase is positive” – noted Józef Rybak.
Conservatives had proposed to establish a fund for the Vilnius region and take actions concerning national minorities. As a Šalčininkai resident, Rybak called this proposal a political demagoguery.
“Conservatives have always been negative about the development of the Vilnius region. Every now and then they used different things as a ploy, depending on political trends. Once the elections were held, they sought their enemies in Šalčininkai. When it was necessary to improve relations with Poland, the problems were mitigated. But no concrete steps were taken” – said Rybak for the Polish Radio.
“Within all these years nothing but three Lithuanian Junior High Schools were built in the Šalčininkai region, even though we submitted a great deal of proposals to all existing development schemes. However, the local government must fulfil its duties and collaborate with every authority. We are ready, we have our own proposals, our own schemes. I think that new authorities will be able to see the situation clearly and take reasonable decisions” – added the director of the Local Government Administration of the Šalčininkai Region.
In a competition organized by “Kurier Wileński” Józef Rybak won the title of the Pole of the Year. As he said, he was “totally surprised at the nomination and results”.
“Rather than directly to me, the title of the Pole of the Year should refer to my activity throughout the whole life. I was one of the founders of the Association of Poles in Lithuania in 1989. When I go back to those times, I see it was the period of transformation, transition and joyful celebration of national awareness that was regained by a great number of Poles. And today maintaning the Polish nature is simply an ordinary, standard procedure” – noted Rybak.
“The Polish nature left an irreversible “stamp” on the place we live, and thus what we call our history, our culture, must be reflected in nomenclature, language and education. We live in free, democratic Europe where no other standards are used. Simply speaking, western civilization has not defined the standards other than respect for minority rights” – emphasized Józef Rybak in an interview with the Polish Radio.
Tłumaczenie by Grzegorz Gaura w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Grzegorz Gaura within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.