• November 2, 2012
  • 264

A press review. About coalition, electoral register and hard slaps across the face.

Members of the future governing coalition. Photograph by wilnoteka.lt

It does not look good. It is simply boring. Waldemar Tomaszewski is in the papers every day after winning 8 seats by the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania. Now he is presented not as enfant terrible of Lithuanian political arena but as a normal leader of a political party which may enter the governing coalition.

Perhaps some people will be happy that finally we have this relatively civilized public  discourse and a decent treatment of Poles. It is good but a man is impossible to please. If he gets used to certain sense of fairy-tale in almost every publication on Polish issues then there will be no pickle of excitement, no rise in pressure and no peal of laughter which accompanied reading the articles in Lithuanian media. Now, there is not even a single word there about the autonomy demand, Tomaszewski’s connections with KGB or about Polish children who do not know Lithuanian language at all…

There are regular reports on coalition talks, projections, assumptions and general guesswork. In all this the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania has its place, although, not as the most important party that is in the centre of attention but as one that is noticeable enough because of the possibility of joining the parliamentary majority.

Dr Andrius Šuminas from the Faculty of Communication at the Vilnius University has accurately presented current position of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania in the media. “The Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania is invited to all the programmes. It becomes a noticeable force and their voice is heard and perceived as worth listening to. This is the new phenomenon that I observe. Firstly, they became a parliamentary party and they gained political importance. Secondly, they are good and pleasant interlocutors, suitable for discussion programmes. It may also be the reason for their growing visibility,” we read on Alfa.lt.

The place of AWPL in the future government raises a lot of speculation. Both media and public opinion absolutely exclude a possibility of a Pole as the Minister of Education. It just does not fit in Lithuanian statistical worldview and though negotiations have not even started, we already know that Algirdas Butkevičius will not sign a self-judgment and he will not give AWPL this ministry. He tried to quieten everyone in his speech given to the BNS agency (Baltic News Service), which was repeated in newspapers and on websites: “You should not be worried about that. We will discuss it and we really understand that the Ministry of Education should be given to appropriate and responsible hands.” By saying this, he implied that the Polish hands are neither responsible nor appropriate.

Arūnas Daugėla shares the view of the future Prime Minister and is indignant about the attempts Poles make to get the Ministry of Education, as he says on the balsas.lt portal: “W. Tomaszewski displays a complete lack of knowledgeability. One needs to be very impudent to demand that office. Apparently, W. Tomaszewski is impudent enough as he proved to be so in his endless lies about the situation of the Polish minority in Lithuania”.

A. Daugėla claims that appointing an AWPL representative as the Minister of Education is the same as appointing a fox as a director of a poultry farm; a thief as a cashier or a swindler as a bank manager. In his opinion, such decision will give the green light to endless ethnic conflicts in Lithuania.

A. Daugėla ended his speech in a quite generous way. “Tolerance is a good thing. An Afro-American man became the President of the United States, a woman became the President of Lithuania, a gay man – the chairman of Atomic Energy Commission. We are getting used to diversity, to other nations and groups living next to us, to gay parades, gay marriages, etc. Maybe one day, we will choose a Pole to be our President. Maybe one day, a Pole may become the Minister of Education. However, AWPL as an organization which constantly provokes conflicts and slanders Lithuania, is definitely out of discussion here.”

Well, well, Mr. Daugėla! Women, gay people, Afro-Americans and Poles from the Vilnius Region! I think that as a part of teaching about tolerance, you will have to include “Bambo” (org. “Murzynek Bambo”) in the reading list in schools when the Pole becomes the Minister of Education. The work was written by Julian Tuwim but I doubt you know him as he did not render great service to Lithuania.

Joking aside. The future government is a serious issue. And Tomaszewski is skillfully building tension around him. Instead of throwing himself into the arms of the coalition, he decided to leave and come back next week. Some treated that as a terrible affront. The “Kauno diena” daily newspaper says: “The leader of the Left has to stand not only his fellows’ dissatisfaction but also the AWPL’s leader. Waldemar Tomaszewski gave a slap in the face to the leader of the Left, who invited him for debate. He also announced that he decides to leave and he cannot negotiate now. Besides, he demanded four ministries. Political commentators unanimously claim that his behavior together with his demands mean that he is not going to join the coalition or he is aiming to expand his influence.”

According to this dramatic rhetoric, if we call the postponement of negotiations as a slap in the face, we may as well say that Tomaszewski turned the other cheek by raising the problem of surname spelling during the coalition debate. The leader of AWPL, who use to say that the Lithuanians should cooperate with Poles and not vice versa, has come down a peg and the Lithuanian media like that. Will the voters like that – this is another problem.

Other members of AWPL than Tomaszewski have not been noticed by media so far. There is only one king. In truth, there will be a queen in the next term but beauty tenders custom, doesn’t it? Just before the second round, the Alfa.lt portal admired Rita Tamašunienė’s beauty. The portal even announced a beauty contest. They collated her photograph with a photograph of Živilė Pinskuvienė, who is her rival from the Vilnius-Širvintos constituency, and people were supposed to vote for the more beautiful one. Rita Tamašunienė won the contest and she got 60% of votes.

Polish girls are the best, even if they have Lithuanian surnames.

Source: http://www.wilnoteka.lt/pl/artykul/przeglad-prasy-o-koalicji-lisach-i-siarczystych-policzkach

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

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