- November 23, 2012
Press review. The pride and the ideology.
While the new government is being formed and picking up the speed, the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (EAPL) is receiving much publicity from the media. In the articles published in previous week EAPL is presented as a whole, a unified party, not as an organization consisting of individuals. After Valdemar Tomaševsky resigned from his parliamentary mandate, EAPL has lost a recognizable representative. His successor hasn’t been found yet.
Needless to say, Tomaševsky still remains in the public eye. What is more, he continues to deliver speeches on behalf of the party and expresses his opinions about party’s plans and other key issues. Officially, Valdemar Tomaševsky is currently the MP of the European Parliament. Therefore, one can expect another party member to make comments on EAPL’s activities.
Rita Tamašuniene, the staroste of the EAPL fraction, is the most likely to take up the function of the current events’ commentator. She will be the one to voice the party’s stance on the matter; and she will be the one whose opinion the journalists will ask. The media provided the information about the politician being elected as the staroste. Yet the journalists seem to focus on orchestrating the contest for the Miss of the Government.
An article entitled “The beauty and the parliament- anybody to behold?” was recently posted on the 15min.lt webpage. The author states: “For the first time in party’s history, EAPL has seats in the parliament. Its pride is Rita Tamašuniene, former Deputy Director of the Vilnius Region. An attractive blond was also designated the staroste of the EAPL fraction.”
The Lithuanian journalists seem to find the beauty of the EAPL politician dazzling. How nice is that? The continuous presence of EAPL in the media coverage due to the staroste is to be expected. The question is: will the comely politician fall prey to the clichés of “somebody’s pride” and “attractive blond”(and what else?) just like Joanna Mucha, the Polish Minister of Sport and Tourism? Or will she use her attributes to make the voice of her party heard? Observing how the situation progresses could be in fact more engaging than observing the Poles in the Lithuanian government.
In his article Marius Laurinavičius, the journalist of a daily newspaper “Czy Warszawa się przybliży”, points out: “Six months ago many could not have predicted such scenario. The Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania will not only be a part of the Seimas, but also will be represented in the government after joining a ruling coalition. The political world is not doomed, that’s for sure. On the contrary, the course of events will turn to our good advantage.”
According to Laurinavičius, there is a lot to look forward to in Lithuania. The journalist writes: “In the face of quite recent and strong protests organized by EAPL against an actual or alleged discrimination of the Polish minority, the claims against the discriminating practices of the government lodged by the members of this government would be utterly unjustified.”
One cannot predict if all the Poles’ demands will be met by the newly formed government. Especially if these demands are not presented anymore. Valdemar Tomaševsky himself has repeatedly stressed that the issues of surnames spelled the Polish way and other national minorities’ rights will be excluded from the political discourse. Surprisingly enough, the statement produced a common favorable reaction of the Lithuanians although some regard it as relenting to demands or exercising diplomacy in politics. Whereas Algirdas Butkevičius declares willingly that the same issue will be resolved in the foreseeable future. Well, political courteousness. What can you do…
“Agreeing to some demands put forward by the Poles would be a sign of political maturity. Moreover, it would be beneficial to Lithuania, particularly if it sees itself as a part of Europe”, Laurinavičius states. Nevertheless, the media sustain greater interest in the future relations with Poland.
Marius Laurinavičius firmly believes that the situation when Poles hold the seats in the Lithuanian government hasn’t even crossed the minds of Polish politicians and commentators. If the Poles were placed in charge of the Ministry of Energy, there would be no reason to continue “nettling” each other. The article says the relations between Poland and Lithuania would substantially improve provided that the Ministry of Energy was staffed by the Poles –a department responsible for the co-operation with Poland pertaining to the energy distribution- and the position of the Minister of Energy was granted to Jarosław Niewierowicz who has an experience in running the Polish-Lithuanian projects. Nonetheless, Laurinavičius is of the opinion that we will not witness a radical and tangible improvement in relations between the two countries. Poland is poised to become a valuable member of Europe. Thus, it rather seeks a closer alliance with the great European countries, not petty Lithuania.
The author writes: “Lithuania should also encourage more active cooperation with Poland, particularly if the matter of alleged discrimination of the Poles living in Lithuania does not affect adversely the relations between the courtiers.” Additionally, Laurinavičius argues that a lot depends upon the President of Lithuania whose blunders and uncalled for ambitions soured the relations with Poland.
Algimantas Kasparavičius, a politician cited in the weekly magazine “Veidas”, underlines the fact that the Polish-Lithuanian relations need to be fostered: “The mysterious standstills are out of question. Further procrastination on our side will result in the guilt pile-up. For starters, the new government will have to reach an agreement on an amendment of the Education Act and surnames spelling.”
Kasparavičius continues: “What is worse, de facto national party is in fact a local political force that aims at wielding the ruling power over the whole country. However, its ideology could be boiled down to ‘We are not liberal, nor left-wing or right-wing. We are Polish.’ Such motto only lowers the chance for the political unity in Lithuania. Or is there more to it than meets the eye?”
Vladimiras Laučius, a political scientist whose opinion was quoted in Delfi, lambastes EAPL for the lack of a clear ideology. He holds the view that although the Labour Party, Order and Justice and EAPL have won the elections, they have lost when it comes to the political discourse. There are no commentators and experts who uphold the political vision of these parties.
“The point at issue is verily crucial, since the party without the supporters outside its ranks remains on the peripheries of the political scene (…). Is there any fairly credible political commentator or analytic in Lithuania who supports the opinions of the EAPL leader, Valdemar Tomaševsky?(…) A success in numbers achieved due to the speechless anonymous voters is no success at all. Certainly not a success in terms of the ideas, intellect and morals.”, Laučius maintains.
Apparently the publications of the Polish media operating in Lithuania passed unnoticed by Mr. Laučius. The media people- the editors in chief, main columnists, and lowly journalists- eagerly pass the opinions voiced by Valdemar Tomaševsky like their own. The media people represent the right ideology mentioned by Kasparavičius in “Veidas”, namely “We are Polish!”
Few political commentators tackle the issue other than the government’s actions and the Ministry of Energy, such as culture. It does not evoke such intense surge of emotions. Tomaševsky also referred to the Ministry of Culture as “non-serious “ Ministry.
However, in “Vilniaus diena” Ignas Jačauskas notes: “The members of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania who counted for the seat of the Minister of National Education and the Minister of Culture were elected as the Vice-Ministers. They received a consolation prize. One can only wish that the skeptics would not go into a sheer panic attack about a sudden legalization of the Lipowa Street or a grand opening and subsidizing of the Museum of Julian Tuwim. Let us not forget that the two neighboring nations have in common not only politics, but also a rich culture.”
Tłumaczenie Karolina Jasińska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Karolina Jasińska the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.