- March 12, 2012
DELFI pl not lt – where to put a comma?
It is beginning a new stage of Polish-Lithuanian “cold war”. After a diplomatic challenge that stuck for a good in the trenches, Lithuania brings new acts on the information front. Maybe they are not very new but, as usual it is, old and forgotten. It should be admitted that even it does not hide its intentions and begins with “some inaccuracies”. So, I am opening old, good “Vilnius Courier” and I see an ad on the whole page: Start of “new POLISH portal in Lithuania!” Nothing better to do, just be happy that our family of Polish media in Lithuania is growing! Despite the fact that it will not be POLISH VERSION but only MUTATION of Polish version of extremely Lithuanian “source of information”.
Years ago when I was writing master thesis about the Polish media in Lithuania in the twentieth century, I devoted an entire chapter to work of Polish-language newspapers, it means only about Polish language layer. This press played an important role in the battle for influence in the Vilnius. When new government entered to Vilnius, began to appear the propaganda newspapers in Polish, to realize the citizens of Vilnius how lucky they are. They gain the right to name “gadzinówka” which in Poland is associated with the Nazi press. We had more publishers – the Soviets, Lithuanians, Lithuanian Communists, Nazis, again Soviets – all were using press to establish new regime or ideology. After war, the Communists created even a Polish-speaking propaganda machine (I refer you to the excellent work of Józef Szostakowski “Between freedom and slavery”).
Time flies and 2nd Lithuania celebrated the 22nd birthday. Grew up a generation that does not remember how “Czerwony Sztandar” was writing about 1st May parades in the Soviet Vilnius or was fussing over the harvest in Švenčionys. It seems that it was a long time ago and it is not true. But, recently I was in Kalvelių and on Polish school I saw a plate ” Kalvelių High School”. Well, you can see grew up the generation which feels good with that. They prefer to hide its origin under the Lithuanian name (how else you can do career?) and they do not understand why someone is fighting here? Apparently to the youngest generation of Pl.LT (or even “Lithuanians of Polish descent”) will be addressed new subpage of DELFI.
When the Russian version of DELFI started, I asked one editor if they plan the Polish version. He looked at me with a pity and truly confessed: “For what? For whom? For hundreds of Polish patriots? Most Lithuanian Poles read either Lithuanian (the younger generation) or Russian (the elder). Like all minorities or even Lithuanians, long time ago swallowed a “hook” of Russian culture. That is why, you will find it in our country. The most important is to counter the influence of Moscow, both here in Russian media in Lithuania and abroad as well. What is more, to create a positive image of Lithuania among Internet users in Russia.” In confirmation of these words after one year he got the prize from Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs which did not hide that he is the initiator of this project.
So, what has changed in the last few years? Well, Polish-Lithuanian relations wait to the “moments of sincerity” and the prominent role has played Polish media is in Lithuania. From years they were underestimated by the Lithuanian authorities, neglected, without thousands editions or auditoriums at large degree contributed to the problems of Lithuanian Poles which became the most important issue in the Warsaw’s relations with Vilnius and Vilnius turned into electoral monolith. The stormy reaction to the amendments to the Law on Education and the failure of the Polish-Lithuanian education committee, closely tracked by the media, broke a scope of Lithuanian “government factors”.
I can dare to say that Polish version of DELFI is just the beginning of the movement in interest. A month ago in interview for “Gazeta Wyborcza” head of DELFI Monika Garbačiauskaitė-Budrienė said arrogantly: “Polish language media in Lithuania are fragmented and are not able to attract as many users as DELFI”. Knowing Polish national pride, such insult will not stay without revenge, but more about it later. In this article, the author is quoting another accusation: “At the end of last year, the authorities in Vilnius have talked about the need to create a Polish-language media, because the current ones are financially supported by the Lithuanian governments led by the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (EAPL) or institutions from Poland, such as The Foundation Aid to Poles in the East. Therefore, according to the Lithuanian authorities media of Polish minority are biased.” I wish she had added “on contrary to media of Lithuanian majority”. I wish she had not mentioned that ” media of Polish minority” in Lithuania in contrast to the media of Lithuanian minority in Poland for years vainly seek for financial support in their own country and when they succeed, we can read in DELFI how Deputy Minister of Culture provide financial support to broadcaster in which works his wife.
PR techniques in twenty-first century made the border between the Polish and Polish-speaking newspapers today is less tangible than in times of Soviet propaganda (today we will said “promotion”). It is vain to expect that on the beginning will sprinkles fulsome praises or odes to Landsbergis. A simple plan division for Polishness or on the contrary have been lost in the last century when under the guise of “organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, etc., etc.” Polish newspaper has done a lot for Poles in Lithuania. Could “pl.DELFI.lt” also have to follow the trail of Wallenrod?
But let’s return once again to the article of Agnieszka Filipiak who in “Wyborcza” makes another epochal discovery: “In media such as Kurier Wileński, Radio Znad Willii, Magazyn Wileński or Wilnoteka.lt it is really hard to find a critical texts about actions of Polish minority or EAPL”. So, it is not so bad with us, if we have our own mind (it means that we are biased) and we defend our rights (it means our lack of self-criticism). So, there is something that can be considered as an objective, universally recognized “Polish right” if we have a number of independent editorials hold a certain line which is considered as Polish which rebound you will not find in Lithuanian media of minority. Someone will say that this is a line of EAPL’s politics! Is EAPL’s policy achieving better results because their programs are based on the important values for the most people in Vilnius?
It is not surprising that the media created BY and FOR those citizens are not critical to the EAPL. Does it mean that Polish party is holy and spotless? Certainly not. I think that many Polish journalists in Lithuania would like to switch from 19th century defense tracks on journalistic settlement of Polish political activity (not only for Polishness) without fear that we will move anti-Polish avalanche. Public moods and actions of country new government indicates that fulfillment have to wait. What is interesting, even our fellows from Lithuanian media cannot find on the Polish party better hook than “anti Lithuanian” actions and properties around Vilnius.
Is it possible that in Lithuania we will not find totally free, without national complexes and local addictions Polish editorials of the 21st century? Lithuanian Poles have always been (and I hope they are) proud of the richness and diversity of their media which distinguish us from other Polish Diaspora communities. Moreover, they know on what are sitting their neighbors: a weekly magazine is the organ of the party and former body of the former party is an independent newspaper, fighting for survival as a daily newspaper (and about color!). Monthly is publishing ZPL president who also has a weekly federation magazine and weekly parish newspaper which is published under the auspices of the Archbishop of Vilnius. The proud of Vilnius citizens is having their own radio, which is constantly supported (but supernumerary) by advisor of Presidents and Prime Ministers of Lithuania, regardless to their political coloration (doesn’t it well of him?). Radio and television programs are broadcasted by Lithuanian Radio and Television. They are cut to a minimum, squeezed into tight frameworks of cultural program and directors are treating them quite liberally and editors do not have to choose between Polish conscience and loyalty to the employer.
And finally, the Internet. Media space in which will be information wars of 21st century. Until recently Lithuanian Poles were almost absent in it but today most of the editorial staff and even polish organizations have its own website. On the Internet appeared also new initiatives, such as portals of information and multimedia ambitions and blogs (not mentioning the groups on Facebook). It has added a little bit of color to our media mosaic. What is more, on the Internet appeared the first Polish voices of dissatisfaction with the leaders’ policy of the Polish community. It is the fact that these voices were not independent, but of active members of the Movement of Liberals which do not change the fact that they made a little bit of boost in already dull Polishness monolith in Lithuania. From these “rojsty” grew pl.DELFI.lt.
But this is not the first attempt of revive Polish language and Polish media in Lithuania. Some time ago when Poles from Vilnius were looking for their way and had their representatives in different parties, were appearing for some time an appendix to newspaper of Lithuanian Christian Democrats “Przegląd”. Does anyone remember about it? Does anyone remember about “USSR necrology” – newspaper “Ojczyzna” which was issued in 1991 by the Soviet army in the House Presses? Somewhere on the margins of the media still exists the first Polish-language site in the “pogony” such “Zwierzenia Rysia” (but not Rynkowski!). The first, ineffectual attempt to appear in the Internet of “Polishness differently” by the inhabitants of Vilnius was treated soldiery. It means with disdain and indifference. Will pl.DELFI.lt be the same? The same as with the Polish People’s Party and the TV shows “Kalejdoskop Wileński”? Time will tell. What a pity that this career path attracts young people who are coming from the rebellious underground, such Vilnius “pacuki” who over the years voluntarily are pushing their mouth in the muzzle.
I wonder what reaction will be to this news on the Polish side? Will be revenge? Will start new information crusade in defense of Polish culture? Will someone face with DELFI? Will someone gather under its banner all Polish media already working in Lithuania? If politics and social work could be successful, why not to cover scribblers? Moreover, some time ago to Warsaw came rumors that it is high time to replace some small editorials into one powerful editorial production because founding is cheaper and the situation is under control. In my mind I can see such Vilnius hybrid such as Agora with TVN, such Wilno.24 producing newspapers, radio and TV broadcasts, web channels. Modern and the only right information from Vilnius.
Vision is tempting for “government agents” both in Warsaw and Vilnius. Anyway, even recently we were trying to create Polish TV in Lithuania. Now it is time for something bigger. I mean, today, someone will look to “Kurier”, read “Tygodnik”, listen to the radio and already has as an objective vision what is happening, where are shades of gray and so will be how it should be. Along with “right” portals will appear “right” Poles, such Europeans who do not want anything from Lithuania – neither name, place or Polish plates. They will write to Warsaw that nobody hurt anyone because Lithuania is for Lithuanians and these are Lithuanians, maybe a little bit polonized, but they have the best, because they live in capital!
By the way, I am even delighted that mutation of Polish language of DELFI is forming. Maybe finally someone (for Lithuanian money!) will translate into Polish these memorable texts of ideologues “Lithuania for Lithuanians”. Some time ago we used to try to make a reader in Poland to be able to recognize the achievements of Lithuanian thinking, but it is too much. I hope that Polish-speaking editors of DELFI will fairly translate their regular columnists and they will show all glory of Lithuania, not the “export” version. If they present themselves from good site, who knows, maybe they will attain the honor of creating the national mutation of Polish-language portal Alkas.lt.
Tłumaczenie Daria Bergmann w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Daria Bergmann within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.