• September 4, 2012
  • 205

Lithuanian government has found a solution for Polish plates

It seems that Lithuanian government has found a method for fighting against bilingual Lithuanian-Polish plates with the names of the streets which are fixed wilfully and in great numbers on houses by their Polish owners. However, all Lithuanian taxpayers will be forced to pay for the government’s war against Polish plates.

A special governmental body has proposed a new street marking mode. According to these proposals, the plates with the names of the streets would not be fixed to the walls of private houses but to the special poles standing on the state-owned land. The government explains that the idea agrees with the European street marking tradition. On the contrary, Poles living in Lithuania say that the governmental proposal is aimed at dealing with the problem of Polish plates in the Vilnius Region.

For 20 years Poles have been demanding that in places where Polish minority forms a strong community informational notices must be in Lithuanian as well as in Polish. Lithuanian governments are strongly against it. Despite bans, Poles from the Vilnius and Šalčininkai district municipalities have been fixing wilfully the bilingual plates with the names of the streets for several years. They justify themselves with the European Charter of Local Self-government signed and ratified by Lithuania. According the Charter, the national minorities have the right to bilingual informational notices in places where they form strong communities. However, it is against the Lithuanian Law on the State Language so the Language Inspection and courts punish regularly the directors of the local governments’ administration from the Vilnius and Šalčininkai district municipalities for the fact that the local governments dominated by Poles do not remove Polish plates.

Lucyna Kotłowska, the director of the Vilnius district municipality administration, explained “No one can remove them without the owner’s permission”. However, the execution of the governmental idea solves the problem. In Kotłowska’s opinion “The best solution would be for the Parliament to accept amendments to the Law allowing the bilingual plates to be placed in areas where bigger clusters of national minorities live. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t seem interested in solving this problem.”

Paweł Nowikiewicz, a lawyer cooperating with the European Foundation of Human Rights in Vilnius, is sure that if the governmental decree comes into effect, there will be still a possibility of leaving the plates in Polish on private buildings. “On the poles there will be plates in Lithuanian but the plates with house numbers will stay on houses. Who can forbid leaving an informational plate with the name of the street in Polish next to the one with the house number? And besides, if the government wants to remove the plates with the names of the streets from private houses, it will be forced to pay for painting all private houses in Lithuania. Because after removing the plate, the colour of the wall under it will be different from the rest of the building so the house owners will be able to demand renovation of their properties in the court of law.” deemed the lawyer.

According to the lawyer, the execution of the new governmental plan will cost the budget of Lithuania a lot of money. “The poles with the names of the streets will have to be placed in every corner throughout Lithuania.” said Paweł Nowikiewicz. 

Source: http://kurierwilenski.lt/2012/09/04/litewski-rzad-znalazl-sposob-na-polskie-tabliczki/

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

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