• September 14, 2014
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Dalia Grybauskaitė spoke in Polish in Šalčininkai

Facing the threat from Russia, Lithuania and Poland should demonstrate unity, other problems do not exist right now – that is the essence of the speech delivered by Dalia  Grybauskaite who participated in the harvest festival in the Šalčininkai region (inhabited in 80 % by Polish people).

“There are no other problems than be together in the times of threat, together in work and in service” – claimed the president talking to the people in Polish. She pointed out that all existing problems have been clouded by recent actions in Russia.

Grybauskaite said to the gathered people: “You are all Lithuania citizens, because you live and work in Lithuania, your families are here and we are all one economy.”

About 100 guests from Poland took part in the Šalčininkai’s harvest festival. There came representatives of the friendly towns and communes, the director of the Foundation “Help Polish peoples in the east”, Janusz Skolimowski, and social counselor of the president Bronisław Komorowski, Tomasz Borecki.

The Sunday visit of Dalia Grybauskaite in Šalčininkai was the third of that kind in the Vilnius region in the last two months. In July the president visited a place Dieveniškės in the Šalčininkai region, and on the 1st of September she was present at the inauguration of the school year in Ławaryszki in the Vilnius region.

Grybauskaite highlights that with her visits she wants to catch attention to the south-east Lithuania, namely Vilnius regions, which is multinational. The President wants government to pay more attention to the economic development of the Vilnius region. She does not rule out the possibility of creating special programme to help to improve this region.

The mayor of the Šalčininkai region, Zdzisław Palewicz, is skeptical about the idea of creating a special plan. He reminded that in 1996 the Programme of the Development of East Lithuania was introduced. “The execution of this programme was limited to building over 20 schools in the Vilnius region. Some of them are still closed because there are not so many children, in the others most students are Polish.”  – said Palewicz.

The mayor pointed out that the Šalčininkai region should not be treated by the government in a special way. “What we only want is equal distribution of the investments between regions. We want to see concretes, not only the promises of the government.“ – he claimed.

Lauras Bielinis, the Lithuanian political scientist, emphasis that in the last two decades Lithuania allowed this region to fall into neglect in case of policy, economy and culture. “Everything has been left without supervision and today we face its consequences.” – said the scientist.

Bielinis praised actions taken by Dalia Grybauskaitė in the Vilnius region. He pointed out that “in the general geopolitical context, Vilnius region with its ethnic and economic problems is weak, vulnerable to possible Russian provocations.” That is why, according to the scientist, this region “requires special economic and political attention right now”. “If we do not invest in the region, someone else would do that and it would definitely not be Poland.” – claimed Bielinis.

Polish people are the biggest ethnic minority in Lithuania. According to the latest census from 2011, there are 6,6 % of Polish people in the Vilnius region, which constitutes around 60 % of all inhabitants, especially in the Vilnius and Šalčininkai regions.

Translated by Ewa Żakowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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