- June 26, 2013
Grybauskaitė blocks up other postulates of Polish minority
President Dalia Grybauskaitė consistently blocks up postulates of the Polish minority concerning the school system and the use of its native tongue, including the original spelling of surnames.
Two weeks ago the President indirectly pressed the Supreme Administrative Court of the Republic of Lithuania in the case of preferential treatment that makes up for discriminatory conditions resulting from the unification of the exam in the Lithuanian language for graduates from Polish high schools in Lithuania. After the court irrevocably repealed preferential treatment, Mrs President has taken up to block up the regulation meant to legitimise the spelling of Polish surnames in the native (Polish) language, presently drafted in the Parliament. President Grybauskaitė announced that she would prevent the regulation from coming into force because, according to her, the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania does not allow it. Grybauskaitė stressed that all citizens should be equal before the constitution and added that, personally, she has nothing against any national minority.
“The Lithuanian constitution does not support this,” said President Dalia Grybauskaitė after her Tuesday meeting with the Norwegian Prime Minister when asked whether she supports the government effort in the case of the Polish postulates concerning the spelling of surnames. She added that she cannot breach the constitution.
“I’m not ill-disposed towards any ethnic minority, but minorities are Lithuanian citizens and all the country’s citizens, regardless of their nationality, are equal before the constitution,” stressed Dalia Grybauskaitė. In the last year she has repeatedly proclaimed that she is an advocate of rightist and radical nationalist political parties, which categorically stand against the Europeanisation of the Lithuanian law concerning the national minorities issue.
This way President Grybauskaitė secures her support among the political parties in the next year’s presidential campaign, whose “hostages” are national minorities and their rights. The leaders of the biggest right-wing conservative political party, the Homeland Union- Lithuanian Christian Democrats, have already announced that they will support the current president in next year’s elections. This will happen only if she stands for reelection because, for now, President Grybauskaitė has not made any explicit declaration that she will seek reelection for president. Namely, it is now speculated that she can be a serious candidate for one of the highest offices in the European Union. Meanwhile, most Lithuanian political scientists are convinced that Mrs President has already made a decision and this decision is related with the Lithuanian election next year. According to political scientists, opposing the postulates of the Polish minority as well as distancing herself from Poland are supposed to secure Grybauskaitė’s support among the electorate of the rightist and radical nationalist political parties.
In her Tuesday speech President Grybauskaitė took an explicit stance against the attempts made by the current centre-left ruling coalition (whose member is also the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania) to legally regulate the spelling of Polish surnames. Her words are also a clear sign for the ruling coalition that she will not ever issue with her surname any legislative initiative allowing the spelling of surnames with the use of all the letters of the Lithuanian alphabet as well as letters from non-Lithuanian alphabets. Poland also expects that Lithuania will regulate the issue, which, according to experts, would contribute to the thaw of tense Polish-Lithuanian relations.
President Grybauskaitė has also contributed to those tensions as, several times in the last years, she has stood firm against her country’s partners in Warsaw. In April last year President Grybauskaitė refused to take part in the Warsaw summit of the heads of the Balkan countries and Poland. She stated that all important decisions are made not in Warsaw, but in Brussels and the United States of America. Some time later, during her stay in Chicago in the USA, President Grybauskaitė affirmed that Lithuania has become a “hostage” of the thaw of Polish-Russian relations. Another affront of President Grybauskaitė against Poland was her statement that there should be a break in Polish-Lithuanian relations because the continuation of these relations leads nowhere.
In November last year President Grybauskaitė broke the tradition of the participation of the head of the Lithuanian state in the celebrations of the Polish National Independence Day. She excused herself for her absence with a tense political situation in her country (connected with the forming of the government after the autumn parliamentary election), however, the National Independence Day, celebrated on November 11, fell on a Sunday and it later turned out that no event of political significance took place on that day in Lithuania.
As we have already written, this year President Grybauskaitė has once again attacked the Polish minority while delivering her this year’s expose in the Sejmas, preceding the court decision about preferential treatment. Mrs President criticised preferential treatment during maturity exams and announced that they result in further demands dividing the society. She warned the ruling coalition against cooperation with Poland, claiming that the Lithuanian society will one day have to pay the price for this cooperation.
This week President Grybauskaitė has again attacked the right of the Polish minority to their surnames. The present government is trying to disentangle the issue of the spelling of surnames from the political agenda and to look at it in the context of linguistic regulation, which would allow Lithuania to avoid legal collision with the constitutional principles. A similar mode was introduced in Lithuania in the interwar period, when, ignoring the enemy Polish-Lithuanian relations, the Polish minority in the then Lithuania had the right to use their surnames in their original spelling.
Tłumaczenie by Elwira Łykus w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Elwira Łykus within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.