- February 28, 2012
Poland/ Consultations on the matter of bilingual signs in the community of Sejny
Public consultations in the community of Sejny (Podlaskie Voivodeship) concerning the bilingual signs with the names of localities were announced on Tuesday by the village-mayor, Jan Skindzier. Representatives of the Lithuanian minority want the signs to appear.
Skindzier informed PAP that the municipal council passed the resolution to conduct consultations in the community. The next step will be to determine among the mayors, which villages want the bilingual signs.
Olgierd Wojciechowski, the president of the Association of Lithuanians in Poland told PAP that it might be several villages in the municipality, where the population of Lithuanian nationality will be interested in putting up the signs. Until now, the municipality of Burbiszki has turned officially to the community of Sejny.
„We want to resolve this issue thoroughly, conduct consultations and apply to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for funding for the signs” – told PAP Skindziar. He added that the municipality wants to do it despite the fact that less then 20 per cent of Lithuanians lives in that area, precisely 19 per cent.
The possibility of using bilingual signs with the names of localities, as well using languages of minorities as secondary ones, is given to self-governments by the Act on National and Ethnic Minorities and Regional Language. The situation concerns the local authorities, where at least 20 per cent of the total number of inhabitants of a municipality declares its belonging to a national minority.
In 2010, in the community of Puńsk – called the capital of Lithuanians in Poland (they constitute 80 per cent there), consultations were carried out in 33 villages, out of which 30 declared their wish for bilingual sings. Lithuanians are one of the smallest minorities in Poland. According to the census of 2002, there are 5,8 thousand of them. Lithuanians themselves estimate that there are three times more of them. The biggest concentrations are in the district of Sejny, in the community of Puńsk and Sejny.
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.