- February 24, 2012
Governmental money for press – not for Poles
As we have already written, the Lithuanian state has committed itself since 1998 to “find the possibility of additional support for “Kurier Wileński”, as the only daily news in Polish language in Lithuania”, as evidenced by the signature of the then director of the now nonexistent Department of National Minorities and Emigration to the government of the Republic of Lithuania (RL), Remigijus Motūzas under the protocol from the inaugural meeting of the Polish-Lithuanian Commission on Problems of National Minorities of the Intergovernmental Council, which was held on 20th March 1998 in Warsaw under the leadership of the then Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland (RP), Radosław Sikorski and Remigijus Motūzas, representing the Lithuanian side.
When the European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) sent a letter to the government of the Republic of Lithuania on 15th November 2011, asking whether and how this commitment has been implemented for the past 13 years, and also, taking into consideration the difficult financial situation of the daily news, whether the government of the RL can provide additional financial support to the “Kurier Wileński” in the near future, the foundation received an answer from the Ministry of Culture of the RL, signed by the Minister Arūnas Gelūnas. The response was not a clear “yes” or “no”, however, the ministry informed at the time that press, including the minority press, can apply to the Fund for Support of the Press, Radio and Television (FSPRT), through which, in a way of a contest, the Lithuanian state grants partial funding of educational or cultural projects.
In Poland, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration every year allocates significant subsidies for the press of Lithuanian minority. Only the biweekly news „Aušra” (which has a circulation of 1000 copies) received funds in 2010 in the amount of 252 thousand zlotys, and in 2012 the Ministry of Administration and Digitization granted 28 thousand zlotys to the Association of Lithuanians in Poland for the publication of 24 issues of biweekly news „Aušra”. The publishing activities of other newspapers of the Lithuanian minority in Poland are also financed. One could have also expected that the exemplar politics of the government of Poland towards the Lithuanian minority press would also find followers in the government of Lithuania.
The editorial board of „Kurier Wileński”, similarly as in the years 2007-2011, also applied for funding of the projects in 2012. Likewise in the previous years, it has received neither support nor response from the Fund (of which the Ministry of Culture is one of the shareholders). This year, the level of funding for the Polish quarterly “Znad Wilii” has also been severely limited.
FSPRT is officially a non-profit organisation, having among its shareholders the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Education of the Republic Lithuania, as well as other public organisations.
As the „Kurier” was informed in one of the letter of the Fund – the decisions of experts and other documentation on the activities of FSPRT is confidential. In total, the FSPRT allocated 6 194 740 litas in 2012 – some of this money will be dedicated for the press projects of the shareholders of the FSPRT: Association of Journalists of Lithuania, Association of Lithuanian Artists and other.
Unfortunately, it seems that the commitments undertaken by the Lithuanian side on 20th March 1998 in Warsaw, similarly as all the other towards the Republic of Poland, have been treated simply as a signature under another agreement, to which the authorities have not even had the intention to comply.
Regrettably, it can be concluded that the Lithuanian government conducts a shameful policy, based on falsehood and lie – it says one thing in Poland and promises it, while it acts completely differently in Lithuania, when it thinks that no one is watching.
Tłumaczenie Małgorzata Juchniewicz w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Małgorzata Juchniewicz within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.