- August 9, 2012
How does Polish press see Lithuania and Lithuanians
As a part of a joint Polish-Lithuanian research project “The Idea of Meeting”, students from Poland and Lithuania examined the way in which Lithuania and Lithuanians are portrayed in two major Polish newspapers “Gazeta Wyborcza” and “Rzeczpospolita”.
Lithuania appears in the pages of the above titles quite frequently. Issues related to the Polish minority in Lithuania are the main subject of the publication. In the period from October 2010 to May 2012, “Rzeczpospolita” published 349 articles mentioning Lithuania or Lithuanians, while “Gazeta Wyborcza” – 223.
“Rzeczpospolita”: Polish-Lithuanian relations are presented through the prism of the war
In “Rzeczpospolita”, which positions itself as a right-wing journal, Poland is shown as a dominant, not an equal partner in its relations with Lithuania. Anyway, Poland is presented in this way in opinions of Lithuanians quoted. The only difference is that their evaluation is usually a negative example, they mention the murderers of Lithuanians, Poles stole us Suwalki Region, Poland occupied our land.
Lithuanians as a nation are portrayed neutrally. Negative statements about the nation appear only in the form of quotes, e.g. “We need to break diplomatic relations with Poland and build a wall on the border”.
The Polish minority in Lithuania is presented as discriminated and unfavorably treated. Some derogatory statements about the Poles are often quoted (e.g. “shit-Poles”). The Polish-Lithuanian relations and activities of the Polish minority are represented through the prism of the war, using such words as “fighting, conflict, defend, fight, blow”. Political relations between the two countries are presented as clearly bad; as broken, strained, far from ideal.
What’s interesting, or at least what shows the study, “Rzeczpospolita”, as opposed to “Gazeta Wyborcza”, doesn’t express solidarity with the minority; it describes Lithuanian Poles as the local Poles or even as Polish Lithuanians, less frequently as our fellow citizens.
“Gazeta Wyborcza”: ironic about Lithuania and Lech Kaczyński
The Polish-Lithuanian relations are presented in a different way in “Gazeta Wyborcza”, which is characterized as a left-wing liberal journal. Few examples of the negative names given to the Poles, whether verbal or adjectival, are usually quoted from the speech of Lithuanian citizens and politicians; e.g. conflict, discrimination.
Lithuanians are rarely referred to both in positive and negative way, predominantly negative; e.g. “anti-Polish, hindering”. It’s worth mentioning that the Lithuanians are often referred to by such words as “little, smaller”, which, as the researchers point out, shows a patronizing approach.
The attitude towards the Polish minority in Lithuania is similar both in “Gazeta Wyborcza” and in “Rzeczpospolita”. The Polish minority in Lithuania is described as discriminated and badly treated. The journalists of “Gazeta Wyborcza” emphasize in their articles solidarity with the local Poles through the use of the term “our compatriots”. Relations between the two countries are defined as poor. Like “Rzeczpospolita”, “Gazeta Wyborcza” often uses words such as “conflict, struggle”.
The journal presents in most ironical way the Lithuanian side of the relations and the activities of Lech Kaczyński in the international arena, also dealing with Lithuania. Arbitrary terms focus on the presentation of problems in political relations between Poland and Lithuania as artificially created and hyped by the government.
Tłumaczenie Ewelina Zarembska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Ewelina Zarembska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.