• March 11, 2013
  • 284

Press review. About God and autonomy

fot. wilnoteka.lt

A proposal to make religion class compulsory in schools can’t be met with acceptance in the country where a priest from the cathedral in Vilnius was recently detained for drug possession and the police search also turned up drugs for erectile dysfunction. Without irony: in Lithuania, the division between what is God’s and what is Ceasar’s is quite clear. Politicians, social activists and intellectualists are ready to defend this status quo. That is why the new proposals of AWPL (Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania) was met with a lot of criticism even from pro-Polish journalists.  

„I am Lithuanian, I am proud of it and I don’t care if anybody calls me a nationalist. I am one”, writes Arturas Racas in his column perversly entitled „Lithuanian nationalist about Lituania and Poland” for 15min.lt.

„My neighbours are Polish and as a Lithuanian nationalist I would put a Polish streen name plaque on my house with pleasure. My neighbours would like that and they are great people. I would be glad if my neighbours were allowed to spell their names on documents as they want. And I would want them no to worry whether their children can get the highest grade on the Lithuanian language state exam. However, as a Lithuanian nationalist I am infuriated with Jarosław Narkiewicz, a Lithuanian citizen of Polish orgin who is also a Member of Parliament. Radosław Sikorski, a Polish citizen of Polish orgin, who is unfortunately also Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, infuriates me in exactly the same way.”, announces A. Racas.

„As a Lithuanian nationalist, I can’t comprehend why these two men try to incite hatred between Lituanians and Poles in both countries. Because this is the only way to describe the nonsense J. Narkiewicz has been saying about compulsory religion lessons and about the law proposal banning abortion.”, writes A. Racas.

A Lituanian journalist doesn’t like Radosław Sikorskie because of his opinion about how Lituania should choose between building a liquefied natural gas terminal in Klaipeda and a gas connection with Poland. „(…) The way Lithuania solves matters of energy independence from Russia is not a concern of a Polish citizen who tries to flirt with Russia making his fellow countrymen from Lithuania like hostages.”, says outraged  Arturas Racas.

He concludes though that the relations between Lithuania and Poland are good. However, they would be better if J. Narkiewicz and R. Sikorski didn’t try to spoil them.

About the AWPL proposal about compulsory religion lessons in schools, newspaper “Lietuvos rytas” in an editorial entitled „Roads and Sideways of Waldemar Tomaszewski” says only: „The party messed up again”.

„Maybe the AWPL leader didn’t read the Lituanian constitution, because even if one isn’t a law specialist, it’s very hard not to notice that compulsory religion lessons are against it. But AWPL members didn’t bother with constitution. It is doubtful even that they expected their proposal to be taken into consideration by Parliament. AWPL party wanted to be seen as the biggest defender of Catholicism in Lituania, gain symphaties of Poles who are considered devout Catholics and obtain the support of Catholic Church, influential also in our country. They got nothing at all.”

To support their view, the newspaper names people and social groups that were flatly opposed to the idea that Polish party come up with: politicians, lawyers, students, Minister of Education and even bishops of Lituania!

„You could say that AWPL party lost on all fronts. Above all, it’s a loss of its leader  W. Tomaszewski, because after portraying himself as a strong defender of Catholicism and Polishness, he looks now like a fool.”, sums up “Lietuvos rytas”.

In an article entitled „Polish aspirations to take Lituania back to XIX century countryside”, a web portal Delfi.lt comments on the AWPL proposals concerning banning abortion, compulsory religion lessons and building Sanctuary of Merciful Jesus in Vilnius. The author of the article talked to the leader of the Liberal Movement Eligijus Masiulis who describes ideas of Polish politicians as ‘irresposible’.

„I don’t think that such radical proposals are well-advised or that they reflect expectations of AWPL supporters. I notice that there is quite a lot of people with liberal views among Polish minority in Lithuania. Infected with cleric radicalism AWPL risks losing some part of their voters.”, says  E. Masiulis in the article.

These are rather wishful thinking of a politician who is not familair with peculiarities of Polish-Lithuanian soul. If during a commemorative concert of the Polish Folk Song and Dance Ensemble „Wilia” an audience of thousand people can spontaneously kneel as one and start saying a prayer, then no liberal with moderate views can survive in such a company!

Masiulis admits that his children chose voluntarily to attend religion lessons at school. He, though, wants to ensure full freedom to every Lithuanian citizen. He regrets that AWPL talks about violating human righs in the context of spelling of names but they forget about those rights when it comes to freedom of choice.

Meanwhile, Waldemar Tomaszewski, grilled by journalists and politicians from diffrent factions, doesn’t think about giving up. First of all, he sent to the media an article written by himself entitled „Quo vadis, world?” where we can read: „Recently pedagogues, psychologists and sociologists sound the alarm because of the sudden moral and spiritual decay in children and teenagers. Police reports inform about how children and young people are getting more and more cruel. On the Internet we can find plenty of videos of fights between students, they were filmed by the participants with their mobile phones. Cynicism, wantoness, promiscuity and debauchery are today’s world characteristics. The media informs about it all the time. This situation is the result of saying ‘yes’ to liberalism which in particular promotes free ways of living. Some politicians try to defend these fake values. There are proposals to adopt Scandinavian way of raising children, starting in kindergarten, without the notion of gender. Quo vadis, world? Who are we raising, who will be responsible for the future of our country?”

Later, the AWPL leader held a press conference where together with other Polish members of Parialment, presented all Acts of Law initiated by the party. Journalists quoted eagerly the words said during the conference: „not everybody wants to learn mathematics, but they have to.”

For the last few days, religious and moral matters dominated public discourse to such a degree that we forgot about what started the increased activity of AWPL on the political scene: a proposal to extend the validity of the Act on national minorities. A week before, this proposal was made by member of Parliament Rita Tamasuniene and also attracted media attention.

„Members of Parliament propose to renew the Act in which Lituania is called the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic”, found out journalists of Delfi.lt. They wrote that the previous draft of the Act on national minorities is a relict of the soviet past, that Act was adopted in 1989. In the same article, a few lawyers stated that it’s impossible to make valid again an Act of Law that has already expired.
And when the prime minister Algirdas Butkevicius said in the interview for Lithuanian Radio that nobody plans to renew it, the subject was considered closed.

The opposite was true about the other popular topic: the autonomy of the Vilnius region. Newspaper ‘Respublika’ always finds a pretext to talk about their delusions, not matter what is going on in the world. Recently, they wrote about the subject of autonomy in an interview with member of Parliament from parliamentary group called ‘For freedom of oath’, Povilas Urbsys. In the interview, they talked about ‘harmful actions’ of Lithuanian politicians, for example about the regulation of Minister of Education Dainius Pavalkis concerning reliefs on Lithuanian language exam for students from schools of national minorities.

Without beating around the bush, the interviewee of ‘Respublika’ said: „There is an impression that the language matters are secretly actually claims against Vilnius region. It seems there are people whose aim is to provoke a debate whether the Vilnius region lawfully belongs to Lithuania.”

„The fact that AWPL doesn’t find this regulation discriminatory against Polish students, only shows that they don’t consider the knowledge of Lithuanian language a value. This is how they express their opinion on Lithuanian language. They think it’s okay for Polish children not to know Lithuanian like other Lithuanian citizens.”, added P. Urbsys.

While we are on the topic of citizens, it needs to be mentioned that recently, because of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania day, there was a lot of talk about marching baldly-headed young men who like to divide people into Lituanians and others. The president of the country Dalia Grybauskaite said they are not nationalists, she called them patriotic youth. During his interview, prime minister Algirdas Butkevicius said that whether they are nationalists or patriotic youth depends on a way they shout „Lithuania for Lituanians” – in anger or with a smile on their faces. Mayor Arturas Zuokas in a column for Delfi.lt comments:

„Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a country where Lithuanians, Poles, Belorussians, Jews, Tatars, Germans and many other nations lived peacefully. There were no harassment because of the nationality or religious beliefs like it was happening in many Western European countries of that time. That’s why I would like to remind ‘patriots’ that Vytautas the Great didn’t use „Lituania for Lithuanians” while building Grand Duchy of Lithuania.”

Source: http://www.wilnoteka.lt/pl/artykul/przeglad-prasy-o-bogu-i-autonomii

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


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