• June 1, 2012
  • 226


Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe High Commissioner on Minorities, Knut Vollebaek, has prepared a confidential report regarding the situation of ethnic minorities in Lithuania and Poland, Lars R. Aa. Hansen – the commissioner’s advisor – informed the Polish Press Agency on Thursday. The document was forwarded to the governments of concerned countries.

‘I can confirm that the recommendations have been forwarded to the governments of both Poland and Lithuania, and I hope that they will prove useful in resolving several essential issues. It is with great satisfaction that I ackonwledge the readiness of both sides to act in the matter. (…) These issues are very important, since they concern the lives of many people, as well as the overall situation and the relations between the two countries. Both governments approach the problem with seriousness, which is encouraging.”On Thursday European Voice, a weekly newspaper published in Brussels, announced that OSE suggested a solution to Poland and Lithuania’s “toxic relationships.”

‘One can see a ray of hope shining upon the rather unfortunate bilateral relationships in the European Union – those between Poland and Lithuania,’ comments EV.

The newspaper points out that the commissioner’s report follows in the wake of a statement made by the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, that Poland has chosen Russia as its friend and Lithuania has become a scapegoat. “Considering that Polish air fore is currently protecting Lithuanian airspace as a part of NATO’s rotating mission, Grybauskaite’s statement seems exceedingly ungrateful,” remarks European Voice.

The “quarrel,” as European Voice remarks, has a history going back for centuries. ‘Poland perceives Lithuania as scheming and ungrateful, while Lithuania considers Poland an overbearing tyrant.’ The OSCE High Commissioner on Minorities is right in the middle. ‘It is to his credit that he managed to win the trust of both countries. Both sides demand absolute impartiality and any signs of preference towards either side may result in accusations of being biased.’

‘As long as the debate is conducted on the level of statements about the past and accusations of present ill will and playing underhanded games, there is no way to settle it once and for all,’ EV surmises. The newspaper states that even though the dispositions are confidential, ‘Poland has already made three one-sided concessions. One of them concerns writing the names of Lithuanians living in Poland in official documents using Lithuanian alphabet (…), the second one – lowering the bar for assigning legal status to a minority from 20 to 18 percent, and the third one changes the rules for Polish Card. For its part, Lithuania has also made several concessions, such as delaying the postulated changes to its education system which concern teaching such subjects as history and geography in Lithuanian, even at schools which so far have taught most subjects in Polish.’


Tłumaczenie Andrzej Rola w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Andrzej Rola within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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