- January 30, 2014
Minister of Culture: Poland threatens our values
Minister of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, Šarūnas Birutis, thinks that Poland threatens Lithuanian values in a similar way Russia does.
“I would refrain from pointing only to Russia. It is necessary for us to defend our values against every possible danger, also neighbouring Poland, which wants to realize its own ambitions.
They do not have any extensive base here, since the Polish minority is by no means large. However, it is numerous enough to try to achieve its own goals. Anyway, (Poland – editorial note) acts for and finances certain ideological issues. So not only Russia, but also other countries with vested interests do the same” – said Birutis during his meeting with the conservative parliamentary faction of The Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats.
– Although I am not acquainted with the Minister’s competences, I think that at first he should get to know the history more closely – the Polish minority has been present in Lithuania for centuries and it will stay here. The Polish minority and its culture do not pose any threat. There is no need to defend ourselves or to try to make anyone happy against their will – the elder of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (EAPL), Rita Tamašunienė, commented on the Minister’s statement. She added that she would not overrate words uttered by Birutis during his meeting with the right-wing faction.
– It is possible that the Minister of Culture tried to ingratiate himself with the conservatives, and get additional points in their assessment of his work. This may be the reason why the opinion he voiced was consistent with the stance presented by the majority of politicians from this faction – Tamašunienė specified. According to her, the vast majority of such unfavourable comments concerning the Polish minority, including these made by the EAPL’s coalition partners, is just an element of the elections to the European Parliament and the presidential election in Lithuania. Birutis is the Minister from the Labour Party, which forms a ruling coalition together with the EAPL, the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party, and the Order and Justice party.
– The Minister’s comment, together with the recent statements of the Prime Minister, should be treated as part of the electoral campaign, where nationalist tendencies prevail. That is why a lot of similar opinions will have been voiced by the end of the elections – she told us.
The Minister talked about what he called the “Polish threat” during his meeting with the conservatives, whose main subject was the prevention of information wars against Lithuania. However, according to the chairwoman of the EAPL faction, Lithuanian politicians, as well as the media, wage an information war against the Polish minority.
– There are numerous negative opinions and voices against them, even neutral in tone articles are given titles which shed negative light on their content – she noticed. The Lithuanian press abounds with material confirming her words.
For instance, the levels of interest surrounding the view expressed by Renata Cytacka, President of the Forum of Parents of Polish Schools in Šalčininkai District in Lithuania, have lately surged. Cytacka accuses President Dalia Grybauskaitė of lying and misleading the European Parliament. The accusations concern the President of Lithuania’s claim that minority rights are fully observed in Lithuania, and that no international institution appears to have any doubts on this subject.
However, although the Forum’s claim contains not only accusations, but also clear evidence of departure from the truth (such as international documents raising objections to the way minority rights are treated in Lithuania), neither politicians nor the media pay any attention to the fact that the President herself discredits Lithuania. The Vice Minister Cytacka’s stance, on the other hand, fills them with indignation. The reaction triggered by Cytacka’s words among the Lithuanian media and the country’s elite, shows clearly that Lithuania follows the pattern set by Russia and Belarus – nobody has the right to criticize the President, even if she does not tell the truth. What is more, Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius wants Ms Renata Cytacka’s dismissal, and the media seek evidence that the widely discussed claim of the Forum of Parents has been written on the Vice Minister’s computer during her working hours. As in Lithuania it still goes against the norm to dismiss an official on the basis of their civic attitude, such evidence would provide a pretext for complying with the Prime Minister’s demand.
Tłumaczenie by Agata Weronika Chrobak w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Agata Weronika Chrobak within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.