- February 7, 2014
Representatives of PiS visiting Šalčininkai
As we have already informed, a group of members of the Law and Justice party (PiS) visited Lithuania yesterday. After visiting the Seimas, they proceeded to Šalčininkai.
The primary goal of the MEPs’ visit was to discuss the situation of the Poles in Lithuania, paying attention to the latest events connected with the Administrative Court’s decision to impose a fine of 43,3 thousand litas on the director of Šalčininkai local administration, Boleslav Daskevič, for not having removed bilingual signboards from domestic premises. The members of PiS donated 30 thousand zlotych coming from membership fees of the party, in order to help pay the fine.
A meeting with the Šalčininkai community took place in Jan Śniadecki Middle School. The meeting was attended by Mayor of Šalčininkai District Municipality Zdzislav Palevič, the vice-president of the Seimas – Jaroslav Narkevič, and the politicians representing the EAPL in the Seimas: Rita Tamašūnienė, Michal Mackevič, and Leonard Talmont.
– The Polish community in Lithuania’s desperation is undeniable. However, we do not suppose that the situation is going to result in the escalation of violence, similar to the riots in Ukraine. But, as the situation is very serious, we have decided to invite representatives of all the Polish parliamentary groups, in order to make them aware of its gravity – the vice-president of the Seimas, Jaroslav Narkevič, said at the beginning of the meeting.
The chairman of the Law and Justice party, Jarosław Kaczyński, was not able to participate in the meeting because of his illness, but his colleagues gave Kaczyński’s greetings on his behalf.
– We are here today because we want to show our solidarity with the fellow countrymen in Lithuania. However, I am under the impression that this sympathy is exactly what lacks here, in Lithuania, and this is why we call on Lithuanian politicians to demonstrate their solidarity, and recognize minority rights. Both Poland and Lithuania belong to the European Union, where the observance of minority rights is one of the basis of each member’s performance. In Puńsk, which lies in Poland, just next to the border with Lithuania, the place and street names are bilingual, and this how one shows their solidarity with and respect for other nation. This is a Polish standard, and we believe that it should be observed also in Lithuania – declared Mariusz Błaszczak.
The vice-chairman of PiS, Adam Lipiński, who took part in the meeting, called growing tensions between Poland and Lithuania caused by Polish signboards on private houses, a geopolitical atrocity.
– We have too much in common – “we” meaning the Poles and the Lithuanians – to argue over such trivial things as Polish names on Lithuanian houses, or the other way round. The court decision has to be executed, but the basis of our civilization are at stake here. Both Poland and Lithuania belong to the European Union, and this union guarantees everyone the right to use their own language – stated the politician.
During the meeting, different people present in the room took the floor. Not only did they emphasize the lack of any changes for the better in the situation of the Poles in Lithuania, but they also pointed to the Polish passiveness concerning its countrymen.
Mayor Zdzislav Palevič summed up the meeting, stating that the Poles of the Vilnius Region are aware of their roots and values, remain open-minded, and do not form a closed community stewing in its own juice – as they are presented by the media and nationalist slogans. Standing up for their own rights is understood as a sign of an anti-Lithuanian attitude, the love of their country and respect for its culture and language is seen as signs of backwardness and provincialism.
– Both governments’ skillful politics has the potential to change this situation. However, it is not enough to speak – we should demand more. What politics needs is courage. I address the people responsible, the leaders of our countries. One day, I believe, there will appear a politician considering national minorities as the country’s wealth, not as a problem – told Zdzislav Palevič, the mayor of Šalčininkai district municipality.
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.