- January 30, 2014
The European Parliament backs the Polish minority in Lithuania
The petition on linguistic rights of Poles in Lithuania, written by Tomasz Snarski, a lawyer from Gdańsk, who submitted it to the European Parliament (EP) on March 2011, elicited an official action of EP’s Committee on Petitions (PETI) to support the Polish minority in Lithuania.
On December 13, 2013, PETI’s chair Erminia Mazzoni, on behalf of MEPs, addressed an official letter to the Lithuanian government, containing a request to take a stance on the problems of the Polish minority mentioned in the petition.
The main objective of the petition is to urge the European Parliament to undertake all possible juridical and political steps on guaranteeing that Poles in Lithuania will have their fundamental rights obeyed, including the right to write names in their mother tongue, to use Polish in public life of the state or to use bilingual street and town names.
According to l24.lt website, the letter of PETI’s chair contains enquiries concerning all the aforementioned issues. Furthermore, the chair asks the Lithuanian government to indicate what particular actions were undertaken concerning the Polish minority. It is also stated that there is no proper legislation which would regulate the rights of national and ethnic minorities in Lithuania.
“Adressing the letter to the Lithuanian government by the European Parliament in support of Poles in Lithuania is a turning point. The European Union is clearly in favour of finding a solution to the problems of the Polish minority that would be compatible with the European standards of the protection of national minorities”, the author of the petition said. He also added that “it is a huge success that, in spite of the so far unfavorable attitude of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and the European Commission, the European Parliament returns to the problem of guaranteeing linguistic rights to the Polish minority in Lithuania. What is more, it recognizes the Lithuanian Poles’ right to develop their own cultural heritage”.
The petition was supported by several thousand EU citizens. It is also backed by the European Foundation of Human Rights and other non-governmental organisations. It is worth mentioning that thanks to the EP’s proceeding on the petition, the problem of Poles in Lithuania is constantly present in Polish media.
Tłumaczenie by Szymon Wnuk w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Szymon Wnuk within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.