“There is no place for divisions – here is the Soleczniki region and there is Lithuania, or vice versa. And it is up to you to ensure there is no such divisions” – said Saulius Skvernelis, the Prime Minister during his encounter with the students of the Polish Junior High School of Jan Śniadecki in Soleczniki. During his stay in the Soleczniki region the head of government also visited the Primary School in Małe Soleczniki and the Lithuanian Tysiąclecie Junior High School, and met with local business representatives and regional administration.
“It might sound like a cliché, but the youth is our future, indeed. Your attitudes in a moment of leaving that school affect the future of Lithuania and all of us. It is important to ensure that school is a primary source of culture and students leaving school are well-educated, and are not likely to consider choosing another school abroad – in Scotland, Great Britain or Poland – after having finished the 12th grade, because of a “more reputable” university whose completion results in a competitive labour market. Rather, we have to try to provide it in Lithuania and we have to do it together. The worst thing is that we have no time – we should have done it yesterday. Therefore, your attitude, your willingness today is our future” – he turned to students.
He noted that it is a priority of the government to make teachers feel safe and confident about social matters, and to eliminate psychological violence. “School atmosphere affects our future behaviour – at university, in society” – said the Prime Minister.
Skvernelis stressed that any divisions into “the Vilnius region and the rest of Lithuania” are unacceptable.
“There is no place for divisions – here is the Soleczniki region and there is Lithuania, or vice versa. And it is up to you to ensure there is no such divisions. Older generation may find it harder to achieve it so that we have to look into the future. It is important that everyone feels a citizen, a host in Lithuania. We should simply sit down and talk about our problems” – said the Prime Minister and also referred to the issues of schools’ reorganizations and matura exams.
At the meetings with Polish school communities, educational matters were discussed, including the latest proposal to limit the term of office of school head teachers. The students of J. Śniadecki Junior High School asked the Prime Minister about implementation of authorities’ commitments, quality of higher education, emigration and predictions for the country for the coming years. After school meetings the Prime Minister was to discuss the issue of economic prospects in the region with local authorities and entrepreneurs.
When asked about establishing the fund of the Vilnius region, he said: “The government solves problems horizontally – this is not the task allocated to one particular ministry or institution. We can assign separate tasks for this region, without establishing a new structure. Whatever we call it – a fund, a programme, works – we have to look at this problem globally”.
The Prime Minister declared the economic support for the Soleczniki region. The investment plan is to be prepared by specialists, i.e. the agency that specializes in attracting foreign investments to Lithuania „Investuok Lietuvoje”. During today’s visit of Saulius Skvernelis in Soleczniki, the mayor Zdzisław Palewicz presented the economic situation of the Soleczniki region. After the meeting the head of the government promised to look for solutions.
Skvernelis noted that it was previously proposed to create a free economic zone in this region that would help to enhance its investment attractiveness. Currently, the unemployment rate in the Soleczniki region is over 10 percent, while all over the country it amounts to 8.5 percent.
When referring to the issues of Polish channels broadcasting in the Vilnius region, he claimed that retransmissions all over the country is a valuable option.
“During elections Lithuanian politicians often say – I do not stand as a candidate here, this region is doomed to failure, I will not succeed here. This is a reflection of our attitude. Once we change it, the people will change their attitude as well. If we do not occupy the information zone here, somebody else does it. If the citizens watch Russian televisions rather than Lithuanian or Polish ones, their opinions are shaped as the media have a great impact. It is necessary to shape civic attitudes, exchange good practices and make Lithuanian and Polish televisions available. Poland is our strategic partner. Once, behind the iron curtain, we also received a lot of information from Polish radio and television. We will seek to provide funds for the retransmission of Polish televisions. If it was possible to broadcast these channels with the use of terrestrial television, we would not be limited to the Vilnius region” – claimed Skvernelis.
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.