• January 14, 2014
  • 226

Lithuanian presidency in the shadow of discrimination

© l24.lt

Today, on 14th January, the European Parliament in Strasbourg summarized the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite and the European Commission President, Jose Barroso partook in the debate.  Dalia Grybauskaite listed some of the most important Lithuanian achievements reached during the Presidency of the EU Council. The are as following: negotiating the budget for 2014-2020 with the European Parliament, so called Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), success in creating banking union in the EU and the third Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius which was held on the 28-29 November, 2013. Greece took over the Presidency of the European Union on 1st January, 2014.

“For every country the Presidency in the Eu is a great challenge, both on political and organizational level. Speaking on behalf of the ECR, I am satisfied to announce that Lithuanian Presidency rose to this challenge and was successful.” – said Valdemar Tomaševski, the leader of EAPL, on behalf of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR). The Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania is a Lithuanian regional party which represents Poles living in the Vilnius Region and it consists of the coalition government in Lithuania. “Energy security, Eastern Partnership, strengthening external EU borders, cooperation activation concerning Baltic countries can be listed among priorities of the Lithuanian Presidency. Lithuania had settled itself a very ambitious goal to ensure the decision making process to be coherent. That is why over 500 legislative issues have been planed in the EU agenda.” – said Tomaševski.

He also referred to the third Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius during which Ukraine had rejected to sign the EU association agreement.

“I would not call it a disaster of Lithuanian Presidency that Ukraine refused to sign the EU contract on the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November, 2013. Many commentators do so but I would call it the obvious consequence of this game of the Kiev government, which results might have been predicted long before the Summit.” – said Tomaševski during the debate.

Valdemar Tomaševski had seized the opportunity to defend rights of the Poles in Lithuania referring to the latest events in Lithuania. It was only before the Christmas when, on an application of the representative of the Lithuanian government, the Vilnius District Court acting under the pressure of public utterances, had imposed a draconian fine of 13 thousand Euro on Boleslav Daškevič, the Director of the Administration of Šalčininkai district for using bilingual, Polish and Lithuanian, street sings placed on private houses. It was not mentioned that this region is populated by 80 per cent of Polish people. “Unfortunately, the latest shocking events in Lithuania directed toward ethnic minorities, have left a bad impression and became the proverbial fly in the ointment of the Lithuanian Presidency.” – said Valdemar Tomaševski. “The fight with the language of ethnic minorities that is supported by authorities is a sign of extreme nationalism that should not exist in EU.” – he pointed out.

Last year, in July the European Parliament issuing a special resolution about language diversity called on countries which have not yet signed this document to do so and to ratify the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML). The European Parliament also appealed to condemn every actions which turn against language and other communities’ identity through language discrimination or assimilation, both hidden or forced.

“I appeal to the European Council and Commission to adopt a resolution concerning those issues and to intervene in order to avoid discrimination, repressions and oppressing ethnic minorities in the EU.” – said Tomaševski.
Discrimination of ethnic minorities, as a problem of Lithuania, was also highlighted by Graham Watson, who is the British Member of the European Parliament, in his speech. He talked about, among others, “political” control of the justice in Lithuania. He also stressed the need to ensure that the rule of law is obeyed in the country.
The speeches of Polish Members of the European Parliament given by deputies from the most important parties, supported the appearance of Valdemar Tomaševski.
One of them, Joanna Skrzydlewska, the deputy of the Civic Platform, the ruling party, pointed out to the President Grybauskaitė that “Lithuania is still discriminating ethnic minorities living in the country, particularly Polish community, which is forbidden to use their mother tongue.” – claimed Skrzydlewska. She also added that a EU member state approves of discrimination which “definitely contradicts the vision of Europe built in the spirit of the respect for human rights”. Skrzydlewska asked the European Commission to investigate the case of discrimination Polish minority in Lithuania.
The speech of Czesław Siekierski, the Member of the European Parliament from the Polish People’s Party, resembled similar opinions. He claimed that “the matter of ethnic minorities’ discrimination undermines the image of Lithuania internationally, especially the lack of the law protecting minorities. All this contradicts the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.” – he assessed.
Another Member of the European Parliament, Tomasz Poręba, called upon the President Grybauskaitė to stop discrimination of Poles in Lithuania. “I appeal to the President to end this abundant discrimination of Polish ethnic minority in Lithuania. It unnecessarily ruins the image of your beautiful country in Europe.” – he pointed out.

Source: http://l24.lt/pl/polska/item/25273-prezydencja-w-cieniu-dyskryminacji

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

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