- December 6, 2012
Haszczyński: Encouraging signals from Vilnius
For a few years now nothing has really filled us with hope as far as the relations with Lithuania are concerned, neither the the tone of the Lithuanian politicians’ statements nor – much more importantly – their actions on the laws regarding national minorities.
The rights of the Polish people living there were limited, not expanded. The most spectacular and painful example of this is the education law adopted one and a half years ago despite pleas of the Polish minority and politicians from Poland.
Now, there is at last a chance for change. For the time being we can speak only about a chance, though. Firstly, because it is uncertain whether the government will be finally created. Secondly, Lithuanian politicians have often promised a lot in cases concerning the Polish minority’s rights and had only little success or even made the situation worse.
If, however, the government led by Algirdas Butkevičius starts working, Poland should react positively to it.
As a matter of fact, under the ideological viewpoint it will be a cabinet completely dissimilar from the Polish government. It is dominated by the left (postcommunist left, if it is still legitimate to use this term so many years after the Soviet Union’s collapse) and populists, all of whom are more or less openly pro-Russian.
But, what’s important, it will be the first government in which a Polish party – the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – will be a serious coalition partner. Its member will be a Minister of Energy. In the previous conservative government it was a very influential position, almost the most important after the Prime Minister, which is not surprising in a country which closed the Ignalina nuclear power plant at the Brussels request, making itself almost 100 per cent dependent on Russia in this matter, and which desperately tried to change it by planning to build a new nuclear power plant and finishing the energy connector with Poland.
The participation of a Polish party which has a large representation in the Seimas in the Lithuanian government is the best way to handle two problems. Firstly, the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, which has been focused only on several Vilnius regions inhabited by Poles, will share responsibility for the whole country, which will turn out to be good for this party.
Secondly, the Lithuanian government must to some degree satisfy the Polish minority’s demands because it needs their political party in order deprive the president Dalia Grybauskaitė (who perfectly found herself destroying everything which was to destroy in Polish-Lithuanian relations) of her great power. Algirdas Butkevičius and leaders of other parties forming the government announce changes in the legislation which will be beneficial for Poles. Not necessarily because they really care about the minorities. They think rather of the economic and energy interests of the country and Warsaw, still waiting for a sign in case of Poles in Lithuania, can help them in these matters .
Tłumaczenie Milena Jajkowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Milena Jajkowska the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.