- January 28, 2013
According to the Lithuanian Law on National Minorities adopted in 1991, signs with Polish street names are legal
Today, the District Administrative Court in Vilnius decided that signs with Polish street names placed within the Šalčininkai region Municipality are against law, and demanded that they are removed. The sentence is a result of a complaint which had been lodged against the administrative director of the Šalčininkai district municipality, Bolesław Daszkiewicz, by the government’s plenipotentiary in the Vilnius County appointed last year by the former liberal-conservative government.
“I think that we should remain calm in this situation. There is no need to create commotion. The judge’s decision is not legally binding. According to statistics, half of first instance judgements are sent back by the supreme court for further examinations. What does it mean? It means that they are unlawfully and incompetently drawn”, commented Waldemar Tomaszewski, a Member of the European Parliament.
“It ought to be emphasised that the Polish signs are legal”, added Tomaszewski. “They are permitted by the Law on National Minorities, whose amendment of 1991 allows bilingual street names. The amendment was signed by Vytautas Landsbergis himself. For 20 years bilingual street names were legal until the Law was “repealed” by the former liberal-conservative government. As we all know, the law in not retroactive, which is what compromises the former government. National minorities used to be useful when we fought for independence. Now, as we can see, they are redundant”.
According to Tomaszewski, the present verdict could be influenced by a number of factors. “Was it lack of competence? Maybe, since our international obligations are above national law. Was it a political decision? Maybe. I’m not sure, but we cannot exclude any possibility”, said Tomaszewski.
As the leader of EAPL, he is certain that the issue will be properly addressed and regulated, since this is one of Lithuania’s international obligations. “Lithuania signed and ratified the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities without any exceptions. Latvia, for instance, signed it with certain exceptions, but not us”, added Tomaszewski.
Both the Mayor of the Šalčininkai region, Zdzisław Palewicz, and Bolesław Daszkiewicz, the administrative director of the Šalčininkai district municipality announced that they would use their right to appeal against the verdict at the supreme court.
EAPL Press Office
Tłumaczenie Aleksandra Christ w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Aleksandra Christ the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.