- February 27, 2014
Kwaśniewski in Vilnius speaking about Ukraine and Polish ethnic minorities
Staying for a few days in Vilnius, former president of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski was supposed to discuss with former president Valdas Adamkus the issues of reciprocal interactions in a context of signing the Polish-Lithuanian Treaty 20th anniversary.
However, there was no discussion, because of his illness president Adamkus cancelled his participation in a meeting. This is the reason why Aleksander Kwaśniewski discussed this Treaty with a group of parliament members from Polish-Lithuania Parliamentary Assembly. After a closed session lasting over two hours, Polish president said to reporters, that he was convincing Lithuanian parliament members to remove the stones from the road of mutual relations, which destroy the reciprocal interactions.
According to Kwaśniewski, those are the main and still unresolved issues of Polish ethnic minority in Lithuania, which were called “minor matters” by the president. However, he encouraged the Lithuanian politicians to handle those issues, because as he noticed, those minor matters may became a serious problems.
– Only few years ago, we were convinced, that our region is stable and peaceful and that nothing wrong can happen. Contemporary situation on Ukraine denies those beliefs – said Kwaśniewski. He noticed, that issues of Polish ethnic minorities were of very delicate matter and politicians must have advisedly approach solutions of those problems. Polish president was trying to convince Lithuanian members of parliament that the issues of ethnic minorities should not have been identified with tough internal policy and that political parties should have cast out the desire to use this subject in mutual games.
After the meeting with Lithuanian parliament members, during the press conference, Kwaśniewski pointed out that while having been a former president, he did not represent the Polish official stance.
– I am a politician and I can say a lot of words, but the current presidents, prime ministers and deputies are responsible for the deeds – Kwaśniewski pointed out.
Cochairman of the meeting and cochairman of the parliament, Gediminas Kirkilas, who was participating in a meeting with Polish president, said that the current government was working on arrangements to find the legal solutions concerning the issues of ethnic minorities. He expressed his hopes, that parliament would be able to pass the bill concerning ethnic minorities soon, which would regulate such issues as using binomial topographical system and that after a Thursday’s verdict of Constitutional Court, the decision concerning the spelling of surnames would be made.
However, Kwaśniewski revealed that politicians had agreed that keep lasting presidential election campaign in Lithuania was not a good time to solve the problems of ethnic minorities.
A deputy of Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, Józef Kwiatkowski, disagrees with this statement. He noticed that it had been more than 20 years since Polish ethnic minority waited for “the better opportunity”.
– It was not a good time because we were trying to enter the European Union. Then, we were trying to enter the NATO. Lately, there was no opportunity due to the fact that Lithuania was leading the European Union. Now, we have presidential election campaign and a campaign to European Parliament. But then, the municipal election will start and it will still be “not the right time” – Kwiatkowki remarked. According to his opinion, the problems of ethnic minorities in Lithuania should be solved without a moment of delay, without waiting for “the right time”.
However, president Aleksander Kwaśniewski conceded that the solution for ethnic minorities’ demands depends largely on the good will of politicians. Deputy chairman, Kirkilas, stated that some demands of Polish ethnic minority were also problems of Lithuanian majority.
– A lot of our women get married to foreigners and they cannot have the surnames of foreign husbands because the current regulation do not allow it – Kirkilas explained.
Tłumaczenie by Beata Kanadys w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Beata Kanadys within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.