Builds on honesty

Waldemar Tomaszewski
Photo. R. Sobkowicz

Waldemar Tomaszewski is today the undisputed leader and authority for Poles living in Lithuania. Until recently, they were doomed to stand alone in their struggle for identity and the right to existence. Harassed by the Lithuanian authorities, compared to Bantustan by Polish Ambassador in Vilnius, had dissolved in the Lithuanian majorities and forget about their relationships with Poland.

However, the determination of activists of the Union of Poles in Lithuania, then the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania showed that the Polish element is a permanent part of the political life of Lithuania and wishes to keep their national, cultural and separation. The turning point was the decision of the Polish elite on the Region with Waldemar Tomaszewski led to set up its own political representation in 1994. -It happened also contrary to liberal left-wing centres in Poland, which they had done everything to ensure that this does not occur, and the Poles provide various Lithuanian party ranks, says historian Dr. Krzysztof Kawęcki. 

Unity pays off

Since the late 1980s. It was clear that the authorities of the newly independent Lithuania will consistently challenge Vilnius and lead successful policy of limiting the development of the entire minority. It’s an old Lithuanian axiom according to which Poles living in Lithuania are “unaware of his true identity” they are Simple polonized Lithuanians.  Meanwhile, the leaders of the Polish community since the beginning of the businesses, postulates aimed to build on the Region of the Polish national education, repair the harm inflicted by the Communist authorities, especially compensation for the nationalization of land and real estate.

The problem was the lack of a political organization like the Poles, the articulation of even the most legitimate requests are not positive approaches. Chance to represent Polish interests appeared in 1994, when only 29-year-old Waldemar Tomaszewski was the Coordinator of the Foundation group electoral action of Poles in Lithuania. Then refused to stand for election as President of the party, second place to John Sienkiewiczowi.

Five years later, took over the leadership of AWPL. -Associated us  an idea of patriotism, the desire to help people, to defend our rights-Tomaszewski spoke in an interview with “our Daily”. The confirmation of a strong mandate of the President is directing the uninterrupted AWPL since 1999. -Thanks to his commitment, strategic thinking and will be systematically strengthened its party character.

Tomaszewski emphasized the things that most interested people, and so the issues of Polish schools and various local problems that plagued the people – says Joseph Kwiatkowski, AWPL member of Parliament and president of the Lithuanian Association of Teachers of Polish Schools in Lithuania “Alma Mater”. For the AWPL Waldemar Tomaszewski managed to win Polish support 28 organizations operating in Lithuania, at the head of the Union of Poles in Lithuania.

An effective and tenacious

The establishment of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania marked the beginning of a true offensive Polish – Poles raised their heads, began to be treated more subjectively by the Lithuanian authorities. Thanks to persistent work of Tomaszewski party became an effective tool to rebuild the Polish positions, and minorities in the areas of Vilnius and Salcininkai to smooth regional targeting. Effective leadership policy has led to the situation that the Poles not only had their representation in the local authorities in Vilnius or Vilnius region, but also in the areas of Švenčionys, szyrwinckim and of course Salcininkai, and most importantly- there consisted of coalitions to influence the course of events.

AWPL cares about the interests of the Polish people at the local level, and the forum of general Lithuanians firmly puts the demands associated with the maintenance of Polish education, returning the land to the Poles, the spelling of names in English. In March 2002, when he was elected to the organised AWPL, Tomaszewski, Waldemar so in defense of Polish education before the building of the Sejm. Thousands of Poles gathered outside under the slogans: “we want to teach in the mother tongue”, “end discrimination against poles”. The resolution, passed the highest Polish and Lithuanian authorities requested revocation of discriminatory provisions, restore education minority of Polish language as a mandatory list of secondary school exams, textbooks in English.

In autumn 2002, the AWPL together with the Association of Poles in Lithuania and the Association “Polish Mother” received an appeal in defense of the Polish education for more than 50 thousand. signatures. The pressure was then effective, because the demands of Poles included in the bill confirms the right to receive education in their mother tongue at all levels of education.

When in 2006 the representatives of AWPL entered the coalition Prime Minister Gedyminasa Kirkilas, for the first time in the history of independent Lithuanian Polish demands have become part of the government. Waldemar Tomaszewski raised the particularly strong two things: the return of land and increase funding for minority schools. Chairman AWPL also reported several important initiatives of a social nature: applied for additional funds to build a hospital in Niemenczyn, increased funding for nursing home in Podbrodziu and reconstruction Gymnasium. John Śniadeckiego in Soleczniki.

Clean hands

Successful AWPL and Waldemar Tomaszewski provoked fury in the ranks of the chauvinists of Lithuania. The nationalists reached out after the old, discredited methods at the forefront with the practice of “divide and conquer”. They wanted to break up the action with the help of pseudopartii, however, the Poles have come to know on the thick thread sewn manipulation and not endorsed façade organization. Lithuanian chauvinists under the leadership of Vytautas Landsbergis also organized a media bashing on the Pole Tab (its owner is Waldemar Tomaszewski), on voting rights of Poles, resorting to shady. All for nothing. Action in the reins wins in each election in the Vilnius and Salcininkai, has a strong position on the political scene. The stronger, the more AWPL attacks on Poles unite at his leader.

The historical moment of the confirmation political position and importance AWPL was involved in the presidential election in 2009, in which the leader of the Shares acquired 4.69 percent votes and finished fourth. Tomaszewski suffered a decisive success in the area of ​​Salcininkai, where it won 66.86 percent support, and Vilnius – 49.94 percent. In the same year he was elected deputy to the European Parliament.

Waldemar Tomaszewski always emphasizes that during the 15 years of his leadership AWPL was not involved in any scandals of corruption and squandering public funds and other so-commonly called shocking. Lithuanian parties affair. Action speaks up for the presence of Christian values ​​in public life as the foundation of legislation on family policy and education.

Vision and Plan

The great success of Shares and personally Tomaszewski is to go beyond the framework of the Polish minority party. As announced its leader, AWPL becoming a right-wing Christian democracy, which has a program for the whole of Lithuania, and not only for the local Poles. In the last election campaign, the party presented general Lithuanian demands on their lists of candidates drew, including many Lithuanians and Russians. – It is clear that Tomaszewski does what it says, and is thus plausible – says deputy Artur Gorski, a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Sejm and Senate and Sejm of the Republic of Lithuania.

Lithuania governing political team must take into account the voice of the Poles, now really well-organized. A big factor in Tomaszewskis merit.

– The fact that someone turns out to be an efficient leader and a good politician, providing not just a good decision that one person, no one political success, but having its vision, political agenda, which has consistently pursued. Tomaszewski has a vision and a plan that incorporates tirelessly for years in the life – says Mountain.

Acknowledgement of political position led by Tomaszewski Shares was overrun in October 2012, the 5% electoral threshold and winning 8 mandates. One of the key elements of success is the cooperation with the representatives of other minorities, especially the Russians, the local Belarussian Marians, and Żmudzinami. -Tomaszewski took the bold decision to enter the coalition. The balance sheet for AWPL in Lithuania is impressive. The action was part of the leadership at the helm of owes its success to the consequences – dr Kawęcki.

Entering the government Algirdas Butkevicius, Action brought their own demands. These included a request total return of nationalized land to its rightful owners, as well as the adoption of a law on national minorities. The government has negotiated position AWPL energy minister and four deputy ministers.

Source: http://l24.lt/pl/spoleczenstwo/item/9498-buduje-na-uczciwosci

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

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