- October 12, 2014
Venclova: When we will satisfy the damands of Poles, Tomaszewski could not do any harm to Lithuania
“In contrary to our Poles, Basques resorted to acts of terrorism, so they are much worse than Mr. Tomaszewski. However, presently, they have the bilingual sign boards and it did not cause the fall of Spain, but took the gun from Basque extremists’ hands” says the poet, translator and Yale professor, Tomas Venclova, in the interview for business daily “Verslo žinios”
He adds that by rejecting some of their justifiable demands, we become our own worst enemies. No matter what is said, Poles’ demands to have their names written in Polish font in their passports or to have bilingual sign boards in the Salcininkai region, where most of the citizens speak Polish, are completely legal.
Additionally, he says that in all the European countries, such issues are dealt with without any problems. Let us take Spain as an example. Basque language is there almost forgotten, archaic and hardly anyone uses it. In contrary to our Poles, Basques resorted to acts of terrorism, so they are much worse than Mr. Tomaszewski. However, presently, they have the bilingual sign boards and it did not cause the fall of Spain, but took the gun from Basque extremists’ hands. The case would be similar with our Polish extremists, and Mr. Tomaszewski could do no harm to Lithuania if only these demands were satisfied”.
In response to the journalist’s statement that national minorities issues are purposefully not solved for years, Venclova said:
“Ours are stubborn. They boost their popularity in rankings – Lithuanian right among Lithuanian and Polish extremists among Poles. Relations become harsh because of both – not only Tomaszewski, but also those who say that they will give nothing to this “żeligowczyk”. I read some of the speculations of philosophers, publicists or political scientists, which say that the Poles are just on the start – allegedly, when they will be given a finger they will take the whole hand, when we will give them the boards, they will demand autonomy. When we will give them autonomy, they will demand being joined to Poland. But both Poland and we, are the member states of European Union, and such things do not happen there, no borders are changed if both sides do not want it. There are no analogies to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.”
“And, again, I read that writing “Šalčininkai“ and “Soleczniki“ is a mockery of Lithuanian language and it poses a danger to it. No, it is not mockery but a sign of respect for local tradition, the same as writing “Telšiai“ and “Telše“ is. Many will say that this tradition came with violence, through the process of Polish and denationalization. But, even if it is so – and it can be argued – it was developing for centuries and we can not do anything about that. If it was me to decide, I would allow for both bilingual sign boards and original writing of names, as they do not pose any danger to Lithuania” – Venclova underlines.
Translated by Aneta Gębska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.