- February 12, 2014
There is no solution without dialogue
This year has begun in an unfortunate way for Polish-Lithuanian relations. After almost a year of thaw, the situation has again become tense: a demarche of the EAPL deputies on 13th January, a draconian penalty imposed on Šalčininkai District Municipality Administrative Director Bolesław Daszkiewicz for the use of bilingual signboards with street names, and the appeal issued by the vice-president of the Seimas, Jarosław Narkiewicz, who called on Polish politicians to help.
There were also certain manoeuvres on the Polish political scene. Bronisław Komorowski, President of Poland, announced he would not take part in the celebration of 16th February, whereas Radosław Sikorski stated that he expected firmer actions on the part of Lithuania.
“This is going to be a very difficult year, because of the upcoming elections to the European Parliament, as well as the presidential elections in Lithuania. In autumn, there will be an electoral campaign for the municipal election. In my opinion, there will be more similar voices and actions” – Gediminas Kazėnas, a lecturer at Mykolas Romeris University, commented on the issue.
“In my opinion, there will be more similar voices and actions”
Lithuania broke with tradition
On Monday, President Bronisław Komorowski informed the Lithuanian side that, because of an injury, he would not be able to participate in Lithuanian Independence Day celebrations. For many years, it had been a tradition that Polish and Lithuanian chiefs of state visited each other annually on their independence days. “Certainly, breaking with such a tradition is very lamentable. However, the Lithuanian side was the first to do it, in 2012 – if I am not mistaken, when President Dalia Grybauskaitė missed National Independence Day on 11th November. Undoubtedly, such meetings are strictly formal, but enormously important – they are a way to demonstrate one’s respect for their neighbour” – Virginijus Savukynas, a famous Lithuanian publicist and cultural anthropologist, told zw.lt.
Komorowski’s last year’s visit to Lithuania on 16th February was not successful. During a short meeting of the two presidents, Grybauskaitė did not want to discuss issues connected with the Polish minority in Lithuania. “Mrs. President of Lithuania is the host” – Komorowski commented on Grybauskaitė’s behaviour.
During the celebrations, Lithuanian President spoke: “Let us be focused on the most important matters, and do not allow others to decide for us. Do not exchange our freedom for transitory benefits during elections, in our efforts for energy independence, or in building international relations”.
“I belong to small part of the Lithuanian nation, in whose opinion we did not take certain actions”
Yesterday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski commented on the prospective meeting of Polish and Lithuanian Prime Ministers: “It is a kind gesture that Prime Minister of Lithuania is ready to meet and talk, but it would be better if Lithuania solved at least one of the pressing problems which have been here for the last 20 years.” And then, he added: “Resolving at least one of the clearly enumerated problems would be a great introduction to the meeting which should take place”.
Savukynas in a sense agrees with Sikorski: “When it comes to the Polish-Lithuanian relations, we are still stuck in one place. The questions of names or signboards are complex, but they are becoming even more complicated each day, and the same goes for the solutions of these problems. I personally belong to small part of the Lithuanian nation, in whose opinion we did not take certain actions” – emphasized the Lithuanian journalist, adding that a dialogue between our countries shall not be abandoned. “I think that the ongoing dialogue and talks are of great significance for resolving problems. In general, when there is no dialogue, also steps towards improvement are nonexistent. Of course, elections are approaching also in Poland. Rhetoric is becoming more and more strident. However, I do not think that abandoning talks would improve the situation” – stressed the cultural anthropologist.
The shadow of elections
The elections will definitely influence the Polish-Lithuanian relations, and not in a positive way – Kazėnas is convinced. “There is no doubt concerning the fact that not much changes in our relations. Skipping such issues during the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU was a sort of gentleman’s agreement. And now, we see that the issues connected with the EAPL are becoming activated also in Lithuania. This applies as well to Poland, which tries to defend its countrymen, or to point out certain problems” – summed up the political scientist.
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.