• October 3, 2014
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Gediminas Kazėnas: Poles set an example how to love one’s homeland and Lithuanians should follow it (84

Docent Gediminas Kazėnas of Institute of Political Sciences at Mykolas Romeris University (Uniwersytet Michała Romera) in Vilnius, comments on “Polish national minority in Lithuania’s identity research” (“Badania nad tożsamością polskiej mniejszości narodowej na Litwie”), which has been carried out by sociologists and political scientists at Mykolas Romeris University.

The research has been conducted among Poles living in Vilnius, Soleczniki and Vilnius district municipalities. The results have turned out to be surprising even for the researchers. Kazėnas notes that Poles living in Lithuania identify themselves with a separate national minority and a frequently used term “a Lithuanian Pole” is alien to them. He thinks that it results from problems with a translation of the term. “There is no Polish equivalent for the term “a Lithuanian Pole”. They call themselves “Poles in Lithuania”, explains the scientists. According to the results of the study, Polish-Lithuanian relations are described as moderate but the answer depends on the area. The most negative assessment of Polish-Lithuanian relations was given by inhabitants of Vilnius and the most favourable one was given by people from Soleczniki District Municipality.

“We think that the centre–periphery model can explain that phenomenon. Usually conflicts are generated in the centre because political and economic powers are situated there and people’s emotions are influenced by the conflicts”, says Kazėnas.

We support the party but not its leader

Respondents were reluctant when answering the questions connected with politics and some of them refused to answer them because they suspected that the research serves political purpose and not scientific one. Some of them were afraid that they can be punished for their answers. Others, who agreed to take part in the survey, expressed opinions which baffled Lithuanians. Even though in the three regions Polish national minority supports Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (Akcja Wyborcza Polaków na Litwie), the majority of the respondents do not support Waldemar Tomaszewski, the leader of the party. When asked which party they would choose if Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania did not exist, the respondents said that they would opt for Order and Justice (Porządek i Sprawiedliwość), The Labour Party (Partia Pracy) or social democrats. According to the study, the respondents do not perceive bilingual plaques with topographic names and street names, which are the source of disagreement between Poland and Lithuania, as a current problem. The majority of respondents states that bilingual names are not a threat to Lithuanian identity, and at the same time, the absence of those plaques will not influence Polish identity. Polish national minority claims that the biggest problems constitute, among others, small salaries and pensions and expensive drugs. But regardless of those problems, Poles living in Lithuania do not plan to emigrate. The researchers were baffled by Poles’ attachment to Lithuania. “Polish people in Lithuania are strongly attached to Lithuania, the Vilnius Region (Wileńszczyzna) and emigration is out of the question. I daresay that this is the example to Lithuanians how to love one’s little homeland”.

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

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