- February 12, 2013
Artur Górski: I have no illusions. There will not be any completely changes in the Lithuanian approach to the Polish demands
I must admit that with a great attention we observe the visits of the Lithuanian representatives of Government and we carefully listen to the current language of the Lithuanian diplomacy – said the PL DELFI Artur Górski, the Member of the Parliament from Prawo i Sprawiedliwość and the vice-president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Polish Senate and Seym and of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania.
How would you comment on the visit Poland by the Prime Minister of Lithuania Algirdas Butkevičius?
These series of visits to Poland made by Lithuanian politicians and the positive signals they have sent to the Polish government and to the Polish public opinion may be the beginning of a breakthrough in the relationship between these two countries (Poland and Lithuania). I must admit that with a great attention we observe the visits of the Lithuanian representatives of Government and we carefully listen to the current language of the Lithuanian diplomacy. From this language, from the gestures of reconciliation and from the willingness to regulate at least some of the problems of Polish minorities in the Lithuania depend where we are going to make – after a three-year break – the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Polish Senate and Seym and of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania. What is more, as Butkievičius openly says, he also would like to see an improvement in relations between Poland and Lithuania. He firstly mentioned it an expose, he announced that this direction, the direction to the improvement, his government would go. However, there are still some concerns, some fear of the continuation of the anti-Polish policy made by the President of Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite.
Which matters should be improved in the first place?
These which are possibly to improve. I have no illusions. There will not be any completely changes in the Lithuanian approach to the Polish demands. For instance, now there is no possibility to return the land in Vilnius, simply because it was dispensed. However, the agreement to write the names in Lithuanian language and the agreement for double-named topographical places, according to the standards of the European Union, are possible to be made in a relatively short time. It should be guaranteed by the act about the national minorities, which was going to be announced by the Government. Of course, the Lithuanian should once again look at the demands of the Polish minorities in matters of education in order to minimalize the negative consequences for the minorities in the eyes of the current educational rights. Nevertheless, there are also some minor issues but not less symbolic – we should stop punishing the Lithuanian Poles for the current Polish names of the streets in Vilnius region. The Polish minority should also count on the bigger financial support from the Lithuanian government for the Polish media, including “Kurier Wileński” – the only Polish newspaper in Lithuania.
What are the challenges in the economic cooperation between these two countries in the near future?
It is widely known that the situation of each minority depends mainly on the relations between the two countries, including the economic cooperation. So I expect that both (Polish and Lithuanian) Governments will talk about the issue connected with the construction of common sections of Via Baltica highway and of Via Carapatia highway. I hope that people will work hard in order to build the energy bridge between Poland and Lithuania. What is more, I expect that the talks about participation of Polish companies in the building of a nuclear power plant in Wisaginia and the talks about the improvement in the situation of ORLEN Lietuva company will be made once again. The fact that the position Minister of Power Engineering is no longer in the hands of Jarosław Niewierowicz but in the hands of a person who comes from the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania might mean that it is very important issue for Lithuanian people and that they look at Poland as it is a strategic partner in business. Anyway, we have a common interest – the weakening of Russia’s economic influence and the independence from Russian energy sources.
Are the intentions of the Social Democratic government to Poland and Polish people in Vilnius sincere ?
The time will tell, for the year everything will be clear. Nevertheless, there are some negative signals, as the changing in the ruling coalition in Trocki region. After the Parliamentary election which took place last year, the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania shares the power with the Social Democratic party. However, at the end of January Social Democrats decided to change the coalition and they removed the representatives of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania from the coalition. Poles lost the position of vice-mayor and the foot soldiers of administration. We remember that the EAPL is a right-hand party and the Social Democrats are left-handed. However, it should not be a problem in such a small place like a self-government.
Do you think that the presumptive leaving of the coalition by the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania may destroy the relation between Poland and Lithuania?
Today I do not want to speculate on that subject. The Lithuanian Government needs time to show their new, Polish-friendly side. It must be understood both by the politicians in Poland and by the Polish people who live in Vilnius region. Polish people from Vilnius put very big hopes on the fact that the Electoral Action of Poles rules the country, region, that they are in a ruling coalition.
Tłumaczenie Diana Omiljaniuk w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Diana Omiljaniuk within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.