- September 9, 2014
The advertisement of Polish apples in Vilnius. Lithuanians are discontented.
On 30 stops of public transportation in Vilnius an advertisement of Polish apples has appeared. The posters present a basketball basket and an apple falling into it. The slogan says: “Eating apples – a good choice”. The action initiated by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Vilnius is not to the liking of the Lithuanian food producers.
According to the information of the Public Benefit Organisation “Versli Lietuva”, in the second quarter of 2014 fruit and vegetables worth 49.586 million litas were imported to Lithuania from Poland. The import of apples and pears amounted to 15.286 million litas. In the previous year it was 60.948 million litas and 12.38 million litas respectively. In terms of the value of fruits exported to Lithuania, Poland is third, behind the Netherlands and Spain.
After Russia has introduced an embargo on agriculture products from the countries of the European Union, Poles have started a promotional campaign, aiming to encourage the citizens of different countries to eat Polish apples. In Lithuania the promotional campaign is conducted by the Polish diplomatic missions. According to Jarosław Czubiński, the ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Lithuania, apples are the flagship of Poland, as a world leader in production and export of these fruit. “We appreciate the quality of the Lithuanian products, but our task is to promote the high-quality Polish products” – said Jarosław Czubiński. The Polish embassy in Vilnius is planning another promotional action: on 14th September the participants and audience in the Vilnius Marathon will be given Polish apples.
Meanwhile the Lithuanian producers do not dare to advertise their products in a similar way. Gediminas Rainys, the vice-chairman of the Confederation of Industrialists of Lithuania, said that although the Lithuanian firms are also incurring losses connected with the Russian embargo, however they are not planning promotional actions out of fear of the European Commission. According to G. Rainysa the European law forbids countries to help and support the local producers with respect to others participants of the common EU market.
“Excluding the sanctions as a result of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, encouraging to buy any Polish or Lithuanian product is interfering with the functioning of the internal European market. Not once have we been scrutinised for supporting private producers. However, we proved that it was a private initiative” – said G.Rainys. According to him the European Commission may treat the posters advertising Polish apples as an infringement of the European law.
Translated by Alicja Dudzik within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.