- February 5, 2013
Before going to Warsaw Linkevičius visited Niemież
Today, after a long break, ministers of foreign affairs of Poland and Lithuania – Linas Linkevičius and Radosław Sikorski – are meeting operationally in Warsaw. Yesterday the chief of the Lithuanian diplomacy told “Kurier” that although it is not the first meeting with the Polish colleague, he rests hopes in it.
– There was no ice. Everything is OK – replied the minister Linkevičius asked whether after the visit in Warsaw the ice in Polish-Lithuanian relations will be broken. The minister admitted that earlier he assured Radosław Sikorski that his concern for another “false dawn” in the relations with Lithuania is unfounded.
– I assured the minister Sikorski that our government treats these issues very seriously which we have also in the government’s programme. Moreover, we formed an operational group which is to prepare the solutions of pressing problems – the minister Linkevičius told us yesterday.
The chief of the Lithuanian diplomacy had an opportunity to talk exactly about these problems to parents and teachers from St.Rafał Kalinowski gymnasium in Niemież. The minister Linkevičius came to school for the meeting with students whom he wanted to depict the foreign policy of Lithuania. He was clearly surprised when he was welcomed in front of the school by the crowd of parents with posters who wanted to protest once again against the discriminating, in their opinion, education act.
Parents said about commitments which the act imposes on the upper school students who, very soon, will have to take the unified exam in Lithuanian language. The minister of foreign affairs replied that the 8-year transitional period was introduced during which the students of national minorities’ schools will be treated preferentially.
After the meeting with the upper class students the minister Linkevičius met also with teachers of the school and the representatives of the Self-Government of the Vilnius District Municipality, as well as the members of the parliamentary fraction Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania. During the talk with them other problems bothering Polish minority in Lithuania were discussed as well. The minister assured that he is ready to raise these problems also in the talk with his Polish colleague.
– With our neighbour and important partner we are going to talk about the issues concerning the European Union, NATO and other important matters and if there will be constructive attitude, the result will be for sure – told us the minister Linkevičius. However, he noticed that one cannot expect that all issues will be arranged after one visit.
Yesterday the chief of the Lithuanian diplomacy emphasized the need of good relations with neighbouring countries. He said that the relations with Poland are traditionally positive but – as he pointed out – there are also reserves to make these relations better and better.
Asked by students what the Parliament and the government should do to make the Polish minority in Lithuania feel undiscriminated, the minister Linkevičius noticed that regardless of nationality they all are Lithuanian citizens and they do not have to feel discriminated. Moreover, he pointed out that Poles in Lithuania have the possibility of education in their mother tongue from kindergarten to higher education and out of about 170 Polish schools beyond Polish borders as much as 80 operate in Lithuania.
– So probably it is not so bad … – the minister was wondering. However, he added that the operational group created by the government is to prepare the amendment of the act in accordance with the guidelines of the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
After the meeting with the minister Sikorski, on his way back the chief of the Lithuanian diplomacy will meet with the representatives of Lithuanian minority in Poland in Sejny.
Yet, yesterday the Lithuanian media informed about the deteriorating situation of the Lithuanian educational system in Sejny and Puńsk. The minister Linkevičius said that he will raise this problem in the talk with his Polish colleague.
Also for yesterday a 2-hour picket was announced in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the participants of which were to protest against “the concessions towards the Polish demands”. It went without a larger meeting. The picket was organized by the veteran Society of Fighters for Freedom of Lithuania which unites the participants of the underground from the period of the Soviet and Fascist occupation. Recently, this organization, supported by the government as well, has been fighting also against Polish minority organizations whom it accuses of aspiration for autonomy.
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.