- February 8, 2013
Tomaszewski: meeting between Polish and Lithuanian Ministers of Foreign Affairs successful for Sikorski
The meeting between the Polish and Lithuanian Ministers of Foreign Affairs was successful for Radoslaw Sikorski, who has consistently for years demanded for the resolution of issues concerning Lithuanian Poles, said Waldemar Tomaszewski, the leader of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (EAPL).
“It’s the minister Radoslaw Sikorski’s success and a victory of his policy.” – Tomaszewski assessed the Thursday’s meeting between the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Radoslaw Sikorski and Linas Linkevičius, in Warsaw. Tomaszewski reminded that Sikorski said a few years ago that he would not meet with his Lithuanian colleague unless Lithuania takes the right steps to resolve the problems of Polish minority.
“Minister Sikorski kept his word because the previous center-right government not even showed any willingness to resolve our problems,” the leader of EAPL has said.
Tomaszewski expressed his hope that the declarations made by the center-left government of Lithuania to undertake specific actions concerning the situation of Polish minority are not the empty promises and that “the Lithuanian authorities understand that this first meeting can also be the last one”. The leader of EAPL stressed that the Polish community in Lithuania was very determined. “If an Act on National Minorities and an amendment to the Education Act are not enacted in the near future as well as there are not any immediate changes in the procedures of taking the school-leaving examination in Lithuanian language in minority schools, we will consider to leave the ruling coalition,” said Tomaszewski. He emphasized that “the Poles want to retain what they have had for 20 years of national independence.”
The Act on National Minorities, which Poles demand from Lithuania to pass, regulates, among others, the use of minorities’ languages in the areas densely populated by these minorities. In Vilnius Region, Poles constitute about 60 – 80% of the population. The law was in force since Lithuania has regained its independence. In 2010, however, the law expired, and the new one has not been drawn up yet.
In terms of education, Poles’ anxiety is raised by a new version of the Education Act adopted in 2011, which, according to the Polish community, discriminates against Polish education in Lithuania. This Act, for instance, unifies the school-leaving exam in Lithuanian language in both Lithuanian schools and minority schools, although there are differences in curriculum in these schools.
According to the decision made by the previous Ministry of Education, the school-leaving examination in Lithuanian language goes into effect this year. “Kurier” found out that a directive issued by the Minister of Education and Science about the changes in the procedures of taking the school-leaving examination in Lithuanian language in minority schools may be signed on Monday. On Monday, the meeting of the ruling coalition’s Political Council is being held and on Tuesday, the Prime Minister, Audrius Butkevičius, is going to visit Warsaw. The programme of the new Lithuanian government, which began its work in December last year, will provide solutions to specific problems faced by the Polish minority in Lithuania.
Based on: PPA, own information
Tłumaczenie Patrycja Olszówka w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Patrycja Olszówka the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.