• February 6, 2013
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Poles in Lithuania expect steps to resolve their problem to be put into execution

The leader of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, MEP Waldemar Tomaszwski said on Tuesday, that he hopes the visit of Lithuanian Prime Minister and the minister of foreign affairs in Poland will result in some concrete decisions concerning resolving the problems of Polish minority.

Linas Linkevičius – Lithuanian minister of foreign affairs will visit Poland on Wednesday, and on the next Tuesday we may expect a visit of the Lithuanian Prime Minister- Audrius Butkevičius. On February 16 president of Poland – Bronisław Komorowski will visit Lithuania, and will take part in celebrations of 95th anniversary of Lithuanian National Revival Day.

“We expect some serious steps concerning resolving the problems of Polish minority in Lithuania and to guarantee them the rights, Poles have had for all of the years during the independency of this country” – said Tomaszewski.

He informed that the current Centre-Left government of Lithuania has been presented ways of resolving the problems of Poles in Lithuania.

Poles in Lithuania have been struggling with the same problems: they have no possibility of using double names- both Polish and Lithuanian- of streets and cities in the area they densely live in, nor the possibility of original spelling of Polish surnames in Lithuanian documents; They also have problems with education system; period of giving back the land in Vilnius and nearby the city is being prolonged, the land of which, the legal owners were Poles.

The case of language usage of national minorities, e.g. double street naming, is regulated by a law on national minorities. This law had been in effect since the time Lithuania regained its independence. In 2012, however, the law was annulled, and the Centre-Left authorities of that time did not re-new it.
“Now, it’s only a matter of re-newing its legal validity until the new law is accepted, and the problem will disappear. It can be done within few weeks, all it takes is some good political will” – said Tomaszewski.

The leader of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania highlights that the signs with Polish street names in the Vilnius region, that are currently a subject of discussion in a court, are in fact legal. “Signs were placed, in accordance with the law on national minorities that was applied for 20 years. Now the authorities demand the signs to be removed, however, the law is not retroactive” – reminded Tomaszewski.

Tomaszewski also proposed the representative of the government in the Vilnius region, who initiated those court trials on double naming of street names in the region, to drop the petitions and not to file new ones until the new law on national minorities is accepted.

When it comes to education, the most controversy was caused by the editing in 2011 the law on education, which in the view of the society, discriminates Polish school in Lithuania. The law standardized the “Matura” exam of Lithuanian in Lithuanian schools and in the schools of national minorities, even though the syllabus in those schools differs.

The law, however, does not specify the date of the execution of the standardization, thus the department of education decides it. Former education authorities decided, that the law will be implemented this year, Tomaszewski proposed, that the current authorities postpone the date.

He reminds, that when the trial concerning the returning of the land was practically finished, in Vilnius only like 20 percent of people who tried to get their land back, got it.  4.5 Thousand of people are waiting for building plots as the compensation for their land that was taken by the city – where it’s hard to find plots of land.

Meanwhile the Seed Institute of Vilnius posses 300 hectare land. “It’s an absurd that such an institute is located in the capital”- said Tomaszewski. According to his opinion the institute should be moved to countryside… “Thereby the new workplaces in the countryside will be created, and Vilnius will get 300 hectare land, which can be divided into plots and be given to people as the compensation” – explains Tomaszewski. He has already proposed it to the Lithuanian government. The authorities of the city also submitted an appropriate motion, but no decision has been made yet.

The leader of the Electoral Action of Poles reminds, that according to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, that was fully ratified by Lithuania, the situation of national minorities cannot deteriorate, and here, as he points out, we may notice “a significant regression”.

Tomaszewski hopes to see the improvement of the relations between Warsaw and Vilnius, this improvement would not only contribute to the situation of Polish minority in Lithuania, but also to economic co-operation of two countries, which would be beneficial for everyone.

Program litewskiego centrolewicowego rządu, który rozpoczął pracę w grudniu ub. roku, przewiduje rozwiązanie konkretnych problemów, z którymi boryka się polska mniejszości na Litwie.

A program of Centre-Left government of Lithuania, which was appointed in December last year, aims on resolved certain problems, that the Polish minority has been struggling with. It aims at legalizing double names of streets, maintaining the original spelling of Polish surnames in documents, and also at analyzing some of the principles of the law on education, that is criticized by Poles.

Source: http://www.znadwilii.lt/aktualnosci/20130206/polacy-na-litwie-oczekuja-konkretnych-dat-rozwiazania-ich-problemow

Tłumaczenie Jacek Malatyński w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Jacek Malatyński the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu. 


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