- February 13, 2013
Relations between Poland and Lithuania should be better than good
“Relations between Poland and Lithuania can and should be better than good,” said Donald Tusk after the Tuesday’s meeting with the Lithuanian Prime Minister, Algirdas Butkevičius.
“It’s getting better,” he assessed. Butkevičius stated that Poland is Lithuanian’s strategic partner. During the joint press conference, Tusk said that he and the Lithuanian Prime Minister share the same view on the Polish-Lithuanian relations. “It’s not enough to say that our relations are traditionally good, we’re convinced that they can and should be better than good,” he remarked. The Polish Prime Minister informed the journalists that the problems of Polish minority in Lithuania were discussed. “I asked Mr Prime Minister (of Lithuania) and in my question there was hope – which, of course, was formulated in accordance with rules being in effect in both countries – for the possibly quick resolution of minority’s problems,” said Tusk.
Polish diplomats emphasize that the Polish side hopes that the new Lithuanian government is able to make a gesture which will improve the relations between both states. This gesture would be the passing a resolution on national minorities in two years time. According to the Polish Press Agency sources in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is possible to do so; the Lithuanians are working on the principles of the project.
The Polish Prime Minister recalled that there is a working group already set up in Lithuania, whose task is to deal with the issues of minorities. “I was impressed by the Prime Minister’s determination and his belief that the results of the group work should become an important step in resolving these, sometimes difficult, problems (…).”
The Lithuanian Prime Minister said that the group working on minorities’ problems is going to present the results from their research to the Lithuanian government in March. He declared to be a supporter for reaching compromises in relations “in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect.” He emphasized that the cooperation between Poland and Lithuania should be strengthened.
“If we speak about national minorities or problems, the working group has been set up and consists of the representatives of four government departments: foreign affairs, education, culture and justice. This group has a task to do: to ponder over the issues or problems, as some people like to call them, before the 1 of March. In March, they are going to pass the government conclusions concerning the resolution that will indicate which way of action to choose. It is certain that some legislative changes and bills will be required,” remarked Butkevičius.
Journalists asked the Prime Minister Butkevičius whether it was true that the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (EAPL) threatened to leave the governing coalition, if the Lithuanian Minister of Education does not sign a document, which introduces some conveniences in school-leaving examination in Lithuanian language for minorities’ schools, before Wednesday.
Butkevičius said that he had spoken to the leaders of EAPL and an agreement on all issues, even those concerning some conveniences in school-leaving examination in Lithuanian language for minorities’ schools, was reached. “The agreement was reached but then some different statements were made (EAPL – PPA) than it was agreed upon earlier,” he said. Tusk stated that both sides confirmed their willingness to create a gas connection between Poland and Lithuania, which could be financed from the European Union funds.
The Lithuanian Prime Minister said that he talked with Donald Tusk, among others, about the Eastern Partnership, a new Union financial perspective for years 2014-2020 and the upcoming Lithuanian presidency in EU. Tusk said that Poland would “keep her finger crossed” for the Lithuanian presidency in EU. “Lithuania can count for (Poland’s) help in all areas, our experience, people and resources are available for Lithuania,” the Polish Prime Minister declared. Both politicians talked about the realisation of the international projects: Rail Baltica and Via Baltica. Rail Baltica is a project of the railway line which – with the road link Via Baltica – is an element of the trans-European transport corridor connecting Warsaw, Kovno, Riga, Tallinn and Helsinki.
On Tuesday, the Lithuanian Prime Minister talked with the President Bronislaw Komorowski. It is the first Prime Minister’s visit to Poland since Butkevičius assumed the post of Prime Minister after the successful election.
On Wednesday, the Lithuanian President, Dalia Grybauskaitė, criticised the Lithuanian foreign minister, Linas Linkevičius, who apologised for the fact that the Lithuanian government did not support a compromise bill on the spelling of names for Polish minority on the last day of Lech Kaczynski’s visit to Lithuania in 2010. “On behalf of the country only the people chosen by the nation (its representatives – PPA) can speak and not the appointed officials,” the President told to journalists.
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.