‘If Polish society would be given exceptional rights it would give Russia and groups dependent on it a pretext to demand same rights for Russian societies in all Baltic countries and as an effect of a special status for them, here is one thesis presented in the report of The State Security Department and Second Investigation Department of Ministry of National Defense, about national security dangers. Foreign policy of Russia, dependance of Belarus on Russia, power industry and economic matters, propaganda, trying to escalate ethnic conflict, were rated as the biggest dangers for Lithuania’
The subject of giving exceptional rights to Poles in Lithuania, that is included in report, is being criticized.
-Matters concerning rights of national minorities should be solved by serious politicians, not by the State Security Department. There is a tendency in the Eastern Europe to perceive the subject of national minorities as a security matter. National minorities are perceived as the fifth column, which is very bad. Integration should be the main aim. Of course, minorities should also make effort – said Kęstutis Girnius, political scientist and docent of Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University. Records in the report of Department of Ministry of National Defence are the example of such unfortunate comment.
National minorities could be a danger, if it would be about a rebellious minority. Poles in Lithuania are not hostile towards anybody. Poland is our ally. Let’s check the statement saying that if Poles get more rights, then Russians will also demand so. Let them ask for it. If these demands will be as modest as what Poles ask for, then it is alright. Such rights can be given to minorities in Lithuania. But it is to be decided by authorities. They may give them, but they do not have to do it. If minorities would demand something that really puts the country in danger, they can always deny it – said Kęstutis Girnius.
Rimvydas Valatka, well-known Lithuanian publicist said, that it could only be written by an agent working for Kremlin.
None of democratic countries was bothered with the fact that the biggest national minority has more rights than other minorities. Such record made by The Department of National Defense is a crime. It can rise hatred among Lithuanian citizens, that would be good for Moscow. It is said in report. Poles in Lithuania have right to expect permission to write their names in the original form on the first page of their passport, as well as to place street name plates in polish – said Rimvydas Valatka.
Waldemar Tomaszewski, a Member of the European Parliament, the leader of Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, said that no concrete thing has been said in the report.
It has been suggested, that someone is interested in something. It is hard to comment on it. One statement is unacceptable – telling about special rights of national minorities. After all, there are no any special rights of national minorities. There are international standards, that everyone must obey. There is a national minorities rights primer – The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which has been ratified in 2000 without exceptions. This is national minorities primer for the whole Europe. There are no any special rights given. It is a big misunderstanding, if somebody thinks so. This convention should be enforced and it is a big disadvantage of Lithuanian authorities. Disadvantage of the Department of National Defense – said Waldemar Tomaszewski. The Department could adopt the act on national minorities, instead of doing nothing.
-They should restore the education standard, destroyed in 2011. The records of the convention should be fulfilled and this should be suggested to Seimas and the Government, instead of writing such absurdities about special rights of minorities – said Tomaszewski.
Tłumaczenie by Agnieszka Piontek w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Agnieszka Piontek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.