• April 10, 2015
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Kubilius and Kreivys in the Polish Debating Club. ‘The problem is that there are no Poles in our party’.

If Lithuanians had more knowledge of their own history, there would not be problem with the letter ‘W’ – claimed Andrius Kubilius and Dainius Kreivys, who were the guests of the Polish debating Club yesterday. The discussion was focused on the attitude of the Lithuanian right wing towards the Polish minority.

Despite precise questions asked by participants of the discussion, guests – the top representatives of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats – were still referring to historical aspects. Andrius Kubilius, the former Prime Minister of Lithuania, said that Lithuanians have a problem with their own history and they are its hostages to a large extent. Kubilis pointed out that almost four centuries of Lithuanian history, beginning from the Union of Lublin, were ‘crossed out’ from social awareness. The ethnic aspect still affects the public discourse in Lithuania, that is why Polish requests are seldom taken into consideration. ‘We cannot solve these problems, because they have its roots deep in our long, common history. Even not in our history, but its interpretation’, emphasized the leader of conservatives. Kubilius stated that Lithuanians must ‘nationalize’ their whole history and share the heritage of nations which lived and still live in Lithuania, including Poles.

In turn, Kreivys confessed that his grandfather was a Pole. ‘I had a dilemma: if he was a Polish-speaking Lithuanian or the other way round. Kubilius’ statement on our history, that we should come back and bring all we shared together – this is the key to solve our problems’, said the former Minister of Economy.

According to Kubilius, the troubled relationship with Poland has a few reasons. On the one hand, the Poles in Lithuania should not address their complaints to Warsaw, as problems need to be solved where they occurred, in Lithuania. On the other hand, Poland should not negotiate with Lithuania as a dominant party to a conflict. ‘Poland has all strategic assets to become an organic leader of the region; however, by maintaining such a dominant attitude, Poland makes its position weaker’, claimed the leader of conservatives. The politician added that despite many problems, the situation of Polish minority in Lithuania is much better than in other countries. He reminded about over 100 Polish schools and education conducted in the native language at all levels, from kindergardens to universities.

Another problem, which affects the Polish – Lithuanian relationship, is that there hardly any Poles in the Lithuanian political parties. Kubilius emphasized that, despite some obvious reasons, the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (AWPL) gathers the majority of Polish minority. ‘The result is that we have hardly any Poles in our party and nobody raises problems of Polish minority in Lithuania. I do not mean that all activists should leave AWPL, but Poles must have representatives also in other political parties’, explained Kubilius, and he added that Lithuanians are really concerned about a pro-Russian attitude of the present AWPL leaders.

Kreivys emphasized that the current Lithuanian politics is determined by two parties – the conservative and social democratic ones. ‘We want to change negative stereotypes which are still reinforced in social awareness. This is not easy. It may be difficult to convince elderly people to this view, but on the other hand, it seems to be much easier in case of young people. That is why I encourage people to join various political parties, not only in order to pursue their national interests, but also to convey their conservative or social democratic views’, emphasized Kreivys.

The discussion, organized on the initiative of the Polish Debating Club, took place in Thursday, in the auditorium of the Lithuanian Catholic Academy of Science.

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

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