- October 26, 2012
Polish-Lithuanian Academy: Looking for common features
The fourth edition of the Polish-Lithuanian Academy, devoted to the search for a dialogue between the two nations, began on Friday with lectures in the Institute of International Relations and Political Science in Vilnius. The lectures were dedicated to the question of the national identity of people living on the border between cultures, countries and eras.
‘It is important to open up to others. If we’re not honest with ourselves, our friends will soon realize that and they will not work with us anymore’, said Małgorzata Kasner, the director of the Polish Institute in Lithuania, which is this year’s partner of the Academy.
The first lectures in the current edition of the Academy were given by Felix Ackerman of the European Humanities University (EHU) and Rimantas Miknys from the Lithuanian Institute of History (Istorijos institutas). They were devoted to the complex identity of the people living on the border.
Felix Ackerman drew a historical ethnic situation in Lithuania. He emphasized especially the ethnic situation of Vilnius. In his view, Vilnius has so many people of Polish nationality because at the end of the 19th century the Catholic population of these areas began to identify themselves with Polish nationality. “When we look at the Vilnius region, we’ll see a long strip of land inhabited by people claiming themselves to be Poles. But, if we go to one of the villages, we will see rather people talking in one of the Belarusian dialects. These are the consequences of the 19th century, when the Catholic population began to associate themselves with Poland”, says Ackerman.
Rimantas Miknys’ lecture was, in turn, dedicated to Michal Römer. The historian claims that Römer is a good example of such a complex identity of a man living on the border. According to Miknys, Römer was a Lithuanian patriot, but his devotion to Lithuania had more territorial than national background. “Römer wanted to revive the historic Lithuanian, no the ethnic one, and that’s why often referred to the idea of the Republic of the Jagiellonian era”, said Miknys. Finally, Römer supported the ethnic state of Lithuania in such a way as not to lose bounds with the heritage of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
According to Miknys, Römer considered himself a Lithuanian Pole till the end of his life. “In those days, he was often misunderstood. Because he felt he was a Pole, and, at the same, he was a loyal citizen of Lithuania”, emphasized Miknys.
According to the scientist, the problem of identity is still valid in Lithuania. “These are still current issues: how much we are historically related to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and to what extent we are modern and bound to nationalistic aspects”, said Rimantas Miknys.
The Polish-Lithuanian Academy runs until Sunday. The initiative arose among the students of Polish and Lithuanian origins. Poland is represented by the “Jagiellonian Club’ Association, and Lithuania – by the student corporation “RePublic”.
Tłumaczenie Ewelina Zarembska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Ewelina Zarembska the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.