- August 11, 2011
K. Garšva: “Bilingual signs are unconstitutional.”
“The proposal for authorization to use bilingual street and town names is inconsistent with the Lithuanian Constitution as well as the State Language Law” – Kazimieras Garšva, the President of the “Vilnija” Association wrote in an open letter to the authorities of Lithuania. The Ministry of Culture, preparing a draft law on bilingual names, announced they will submit a written response to these accusations.
Garšva, infamous for his anti-Polish activities, sent a letter to Lithuanian President, Dalia Grybauskaitė, the Prime Minister, Andrius Kubilius and the Speaker of the Seimas, Irene Degutienė, in which he expresses his indignation at the fact that the bill legalizing bilingual signs is being prepared.
In Garšvy’s opinion, the most dubious points in the draft, which the parliament plans to discuss this autumn, are the assumptions that in the localities where a national minority represents at least one third of the population, bilingual information signs will be allowed, as well as the native language of the minority will be used in the state institutions.
The data concerning the national minorities residing particular areas will be validated by the government on the basis of the census data.
According to the chairman of the “Vilnija” Association, this draft is anti-constitutional, because “it sanctions multilingualism in the offices,” and it will constitute the basis for the “dismissal of the officials whose level of Polish, Russian or other minority language is insufficient.”
K. Garšva claims that the draft is anti-national and makes accusations against certain persons: “Such unconstitutional operations are undertaken by autonomists from Vilnius and Šalčininkai Regions, who are trying to legalize this illegal activity through E. Trusewicz, I. Melianas and Cz. Okińczyc, thereby violating the interests of the majority of the residents.”
The head of the group which is preparing the draft of the bill, adviser to the Minister of Culture, Imantas Melianas, denies these accusations. Melianas told Lithuanian media, that “the implementation of the project objectives cannot damage the interests of Lithuania.” He also announced that the Ministry of Culture is preparing a written response to the allegations made in Garšvy’s letter. The official also stressed that the inscriptions in minority languages will complement rather than replace the Lithuanian inscriptions. In his recent interview for Lithuanian portal delfi.lt, Melianas refuted the allegations that the sanctioning of bilingual signs destroys Lithuanian identity, and stated that he has been recently concerned by “attempts to create some new, made-up and artificial Lithuanian identity.”
“Promotion of anti-Polish sentiments in Lithuania – is what in fact destroys the authentic identity of Lithuania as it involves renouncement of its genuine elements” – the advisor to the Minister of Culture of Lithuania said. Melianas stated that the “elements of Lithuanian identity” are, among others, Christianity and the “Polish element in the culture of Lithuania.”
“Different Lithuania simply never has and never will exist, otherwise it will no longer be Lithuania, even if the name remains the same” – Melianas said, stressing that “the anti-Polish sentiments incitement is what actually destroy the Lithuanian identity.”
On the basis of:
Radio “Znad Neris”, BNS, delfi.lt
Tlumaczenie: Eliza Łuszczewska, w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Czlowieka, www.efhr.eu Translation by Eliza Łuszczewska, as part of vocational training in The European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu
Korekta Małgorzata Juchniewicz w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu