- December 11, 2012
What can we expect of a new government
Almost 70 pages, 21 chapters and 539 points – this is how the project of the government programme looks. It was presented by the designated Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius yesterday in the Parliament.
The programme contains specific obligations towards national minorities so far unparalleled in programmes of previous governments. In addition, programmes proposals concern also all spheres of the state functioning, including foreign affairs. For the representatives of a new coalition the programmes is “detailed”, “taking into account all aspects”. For the opposition, on the other hand, the programme is “unspecific”, often “illogical”.
The document begins in a trivial and at the same time populistic way: “The fundamental goal of our government is to follow the road of creating the state of welfare to make the Lithuanian nation feel proud, safe and happy” – we read in the introduction of the programme. On the following pages of the document the new government assessed critically the legacy of the outgoing government. And further – more or less- specific matters. Sometimes even too specific, like for example plans of sheep husbandry.
“We will improve the conditions of farming on fertile land. We will support cattle raising and sheep husbandry on barren land (…)” – 399 point of the programme says.
In the economic sphere the new government is going to support the development of small and medium enterprise, and at the same time to allow to absolve a group of taxpayers, as Rimantas Šadžius, the candidate for the Ministry of Finance, described it.
The government programme foresees financial support for families bringing up children – mainly by restoring monthly payments for children.
A separate chapter was also dedicated to national minorities. It is promised there that the government will take care of the development and support of national minorities’ culture as well as the preservation of national communities’ historical heritage. Yet problems of national minorities, about solving of which Polish minority postulated before elections, are to be solved by a new act on national minorities. The programme also includes specific declarations of the government.
“Taking into account Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities we will decide the question of names and surnames spelling in identity cards and nomenclature of streets and places” – Butkevičius’s government assures in its programme. The programme also promises to revive the National Minorities Department dissolved by the previous authorities in 2008.
Furthermore, the programme gives a lot of attention to problems of national minorities’ education, especially the issue of the standardized state language examination imposed on schools.
“We will aim at postponing the Lithuanian language high school exam for national minorities’ schools for a later date” – we read in the programme. The government also promises departure from the mathematical principle of reorganizing national minorities’ schools for which “effectiveness of schools” will be the essential determinant from now on.
Another important issue of the programme, but concerning not only Polish minority, is the promise of completing the process of property restitution. Similar promises were made by previous governments as well, but none of them was fulfilled. Therefore the question to the Prime Minister asked by Wanda Krawczonok, AWPL’s representative, whether his government will fulfil the promise and complete the process of returning the land and – what is the most important – complete it justly, was legitimate.
– The process of returning the land could have been finished a long time ago, but constantly changing law, often for the purpose of particular interest groups, has delayed this process. However, I think that 4-year government term of office is enough to complete this process – said Prime Minister Butkevičius.
In its programme the new government promises not only to take into consideration Polish minority’s interests, but also to renew its dialogue with Warsaw.
“We will give the relations with Poland a new perspective, we will renew and intensify the dialogue in the strategic issues” – the government programme assumes. In the whole document Poland, as an important neighbour, economic partner and in terms of security, next to Baltic countries, Germany or USA, is mentioned several times. But special weight in the programme was given to relations with Russia which are discussed in a separate chapter. At the beginning it is stated that Lithuania-Russia relations should be restarted. Nevertheless, in the government’s opinion, these relations must still be based on equality of parties and they cannot exclude raising sensitive issues.
The government programme presented yesterday in the Parliament will find its way to parliamentary committees. And on Thursday it will be subject of vote in the Parliament. If the plan succeeds then also on Thursday the ministers of the government will be swore in.
Tłumaczenie Barbara Szydłowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Barbara Szydłowska the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.