- January 31, 2014
The Polish language must become official in the Vilnius Region- for our sake
One of desiderata which has been raised from the beginning of Lithuanian independence, by the Polish community in Lithuania, is introducing Polish as an official language in the Vilnius Region. This right is stipulated also by the Polish-Lithuanian Treaty and other international obligations accepted by Lithuania. However, some people do not comprehend why this is important for us.
It is obvious, that Poles did not appear in Lithuania during a certain wave of emigration- gainful or political, but they have always been at home, becoming remembered in a history of the region as the ‘Big Hitters’. Therefore, it is our moral right to make certain that Polish will be used on the ground, where the Polish culture has being flourished for centuries and which was regularly dampened with Polish blood and Polish perspiration. European traditions of ethnic minorities rights’ protection also stipulate these solutions, which practically function in the whole Europe- starting with Sweden and Finland, finishing on Spain, Italy and Croatia.
Albeit, legal and moral arguments not always reach when ‘ a rumbling tummy’. However, this solution is supported also by economic arguments- the most important ones, if we want to launch a policy based on a business, not emotions. ‘The tummy is rumbling’, that present-day’s Lithuania does not need Polish. A national examination of Polish language does not appear, it also does not count during academic admissions, no one also requires having a command of this tongue pending applying for any job; besides few exceptions, capacity of speaking Polish is not considered as a merit. The employees of Lithuanian Rails are punished for using Polish by cutting their bonuses. When one of the local governments mentioned in a job announcement, that a command of Polish is desirable, the scandal broke out. Vis-à- vis, among other things, thereunder, the students of Polish schools do not get involved in learning their mother language, do not spend time on gaining knowledge about Polish literature( which is one of the richest in the world!) and almost do not have a contact with correct usage of Polish outside the school walls, that is why they forget their native tongue for the sake of an artificial mixture, created on the bases of Russian movies, Lithuanian markets’ discounts and English songs played on Polish Radio.
Thus, establishing Polish as the official language, could upgrade position of this tongue also at school. A command of Polish would become necessary, so its learning as well. Schools might be forced to invest much more in this language teaching, teachers of Polish and Polish Philology as a field of study could become required. The Poles of Vilnius would start being seriously competitive on the labour market, against strangers without a command of local language- it could curb a surge of people from other regions of Lithuania ( thereby it would help the areas currently losing the greater part of populace in favour of Vilnius).
Going further, it should be noticed, that the Vilnius Region could become more attractive to possible investors from Poland, because they wouldn’t be compelled to bear costs of documents’ translation. We can exclusively dream about such economic profits at that moment. About the fact, that this type of economic cooperation( analogously, businessmen from Vilnius, maintaining documentation in Polish, could have investing and looking for partners in Poland facilitated) would bring profits allowing on more than picking up the tabs of bilingual administration; it can be found out on the example of the regions, which introduced similar solutions, just like Southern Tyrol in Northern Italy.
That is why every aware inhabitant of Vilnius, taking care of their region’s welfare, should not only advocate, but also actively demand, as fast as possible, introducing Polish as the official language in the terrain of all Vilnius Region. An example of officially multilingual Switzerland depicts, that such a solution does not put authentic local dialects at risk, but what is more, magnifies them.
Tłumaczenie by Paulina Sulowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Paulina Sulowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.