Representatives of national minorities used to call the Department of National Minorities and Emigration – a department for Lithuanian state defence against minorities.
The department, which was closed in 2010, was said to serve as a fig leaf as it concealed a discriminatory policy of Lithuanian authorities towards Lithuanian Poles. The department pretended to be concerned about citizens of other nationalities. In reality, a lion’s share of its budget was allocated to support of Lithuanians living abroad and Lithuanians living in the Vilnius region. Even though national minorities were given crumbs from the Lord’s table, the message was spread that Lithuanian government supported minorities in a proper way.
In the face of economic crisis the department was closed. Five years later, however, it was acknowledged that the Lithuanian state should “take care of national minorities again”. The department, which theoretically is brought back to life by Social Democrats, is to address the issues of national minorities only.
Unfortunately, it appears that state policy has not changed much. The revived Department of National Minorities announced the results of a contest to grant as much as… 70 thousand euros to support national minorities. However, it should be noted that according to official statistics, national minorities constitute 15 percent of Lithuanian citizens. The attitude of the state towards minorities is also reflected by the fact that much of that amount, which is actually very small amount in comparison to the Lithuanian budget, was to be allocated to support of Lithuanian language schools and social organizations that act for the Lithuanization of Poles.
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.