- May 16, 2012
Polish authorities are surprised by Steponavičius’ statement.
The Ministry of Education is surprised by yesterday’s statement of Lithuanian Minister of Education and Science Gintaras Steponavičius. The minister declared that the Polish authorities want the European structures to take part in in solving the education problems of the minorities in Lithuania and in Poland. In the minster’s opinion this is a form of putting pressure on Lithuania.
‘The Ministry of Education is still ready to negotiations with the Lithuanian Minister of Education and Science,’ declared Miroslav Sielatycki in a special statement, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Education. Sielatycki reminded that five meetings of Polish-Lithuanian Team of Education Experts and The Minorities Representatives took place last autumn.
The team of experts was operating on the basis of the mandate given by the Prime Ministers of the two countries. The team works were finished in November 2011 without reaching any agreement in the key matter. The key problem, according, to Polish side and the representatives of Polish minority in Lithuania is making amendments to the Education Act, which, in their opinion, worsens the situation of the schools of minorities in Lithuania.
‘However, the discussions about the minorities education (Polish minority in Lithuania and Lithuanian in Poland) didn’t finish with the end of the works of the team. This happened because the mission of the High Commissioner of The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Knut Vollebaek has started in Poland and Lithuania last autumn and at the beginning of 2012,’ stated Miroslav Sielatycki.
The commissioner issued an invitation for a meeting to the ministers of the two countries in order to discuss controversial issues. The Polish party accepted the invitation. But the Lithuanian side doesn’t accept this kind of discussion claiming that it’s a kind of imposing pressure on Lithuania. Minister Steponavičius wrote a letter to the Minister of Education Krystyna Szumilas, in which he proposed reopening the education experts meetings. The Polish side does not see any point in continuing this kind of dialogue, which hasn’t brought any visible effects so far.
‘The Polish side explained that because of the lack of satisfactory results of the education experts meetings last autumn, there is no legitimacy in continuing this form of dialogue now. The Polish side agrees to carry on dialogue in a new form proposed by the High Commissioner —on his invitation and with his participation as the host and the moderator of the negotiations’ —underlined Sielatycki. He also hoped that the Lithuanian side would accept Knut Vollebaek’s invitation.
The Commisioner Knut Vollebaek had a series of meetings with the representatives of Polish minority in Lithuania and Lithuanian minority in Poland and with the two countries ministry management last autumn and at the beginning of this year. He also commissioned the external experts to compile a report concerning the educational situation of Polish minority in Lithuania and Lithuanian one in Poland.
Tłumaczenie Adam Gałązka w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Adam Gałązka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.