- June 19, 2014
Controversies surrounding the removal of the draft Laws on National Minorities and the draft Laws on Spelling of Names and Surnames from the Lithuanian Seimas’ agenda
Once again the draft Laws on National Minorities and the draft Laws on Spelling of Names and Surnames proposed by the ruling parties were at the last moment removed from the Seimas’ agenda. On Thursday morning, those bills were still included in the agenda but the Seimas members decided not to discuss them. However, the Seimas will discuss the bill drafted by the conservatives.
A week ago, the political council of the ruling coalition agreed to adopt the 1991 version of Law on National Minorities by the end of the spring session of the Lithuanian parliament. It would be in effect until a new one is prepared and adopted.
Seimas was supposed to discuss the bill initiated by Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania on Thursday morning. However, the bill was removed in response to the proposal of the Social Democrats. Deputy Speaker of the Seimas addressed his coalition partners: “The rejection of the bill and the refusal to consider it mean that you avoid finding a way to solve the problem. By not allowing the bill to be read, you’re contradicting yourselves and, above all, deceiving Lithuanian citizens.”
However, the draft Law on National Minorities initiated by the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats is still included in the agenda for the afternoon session. Under the bill, the use of bilingual street and town names would be forbidden, but members of national minorities could contact local authorities orally in their national language.
Two draft Laws on Spelling of Names and Surnames were also removed from the agenda, one prepared by the members of the ruling Social Democratic Party of Lithuania, and the other one drafted by the conservatives. The bill drafted by Social Democrats Gediminas Kirkilas and Irena Šiaulienė stipulates that non-Lithuanian names will be spelled using Latin-based characters. The conservatives, on the other hand, propose putting non-Lithuanian names in their original form on a separate passport page.
Both projects were several times included in and removed from the agenda. It happened again on Thursday, June 19, when, in response to the proposal of the conservatives, the issue of spelling of names and surnames was removed from the agenda. They argued that the Commission of the Lithuanian Language had not stated its opinion on the matter yet.
Based on: BNS, lrs.lt
Tłumaczenie by Michał M. Kowalski w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Michał M. Kowalski within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.