- May 28, 2015
There are many complaints against the leader of Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (AWPL) concerning the democracy within the party, but there is no better candidate.
At the beginning I would like to mention that I decided to write and publish this article in the Internet as the Polish newspapers in Lithuania will not print it out. This is a home truth for them.
As we learnt from the recent past, on the 11th of March 1990, 124 out of 130 MPs in the Supreme Council of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic voted for the restoration of independence. Three Polish MPs were among those who voted for independence, but as many as 6 MPs decided to abstain. So the question is why? Firstly, they felt fear and hesitated because nobody knew how the “older brother” in Kremlin will react. It was the beginning of Lithuanian-Polish misunderstandings. Secondly, Reform Movement of Lithuania “Sąjūdis” demonstated an anti-Polish attitude which basis was statement that Poles living in Lithuania are in fact polonized Lithuanians who need to be “converted”. They also proposed signing us as “locals”, thus some of the Poles living in Lithuania started to think about proclaiming the autonomy in Vilnius region, which exacerbated the situation even more.
To a large extent it was a trick of Kremlin’s strategists – they aimed to acquire a part of Lithuanian territory with the use of Poles playing into their hands, however let us not hide the fact that a substantial part of Polish people supported this idea. During the bloody January Events in 1991 (Sausio įvykia) the majority of them remained neutral towards Moscow’s acts, which were targeted at restoration of Soviet order; on the Lithuania’s side there were only a few Polish, which had a negative effect on the Lithuanian-Polish relations.
Therfore, we can see that the concerns Polish have had for the last 25 years have its causes in the passive attitude of our countrymen towards Lithuania’s independence. Lithuanians are not able to forgive us our inactivity in such an important moment. Problems of Poles remain same, namely the issue of naming street and towns where there are polish communities in two languages, problems in the Polish education, issue of using original spelling of Polish surnames, restitution of lands which were previously in the hands of Polish people.
What is interesting, an enactment, which concerns national minorities and which was created according to European laws, had been adopted in 1991 but at the beginning of 2010 was annulled. Currently Lithuanian politicians, who deal with the national minorities issues, emphazise the law of state language which bans using two language in naming streets and towns and using origial spelling of surnames. So we can see this enactment is more important than the constitution of the country, which provides the right to use one’s native language even in state offices in the territory populated by national minority.
However, this is only a theory because practice is far from reality. In 2011, Seimas accepted a new education law, which clearly discriminates Polish education. Problem is, the law standardized the high school final exam on Lithuanian language both in Lithuanian and national minorities’ schools, even though the curricula differs in quality and quantity. It is hard to believe, that this is the result of our LIBERALS efforts. This was against the decisions of Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities which does not allow for any deterioration of minorities’ living conditions.
Let us now move on to the elections issue. Here we have a constant changing of electoral districts’ borders in order to influence voting results. A region where Poles dominate is connected with a Lithuanian region so that the Polish spirit is “diluted”; it is now called “electoral tourism”.
Today there are politicians who try to encourage us to be more active in the socio-political life, to join the Lithuanian parties, in my opinion however, this way will lead Poles to nowhere, it will rather end up in a dead end. We will lose our parliamentary group in Sejmas, we will be at the end of lists in the Lithuanian parties and we will not have any influence on country’s and party’s affairs. We should focus on a strong Polish party rather than disperse our forces or we will disappear like sugar in a hot tea. Although there are many complaints against the leader of AWPL concerning his leadership in the party, for the time being I do not see any better canditate for this place than him.
Finally, I would like to say that if some miracle happens and Lithuania becomes fully democratic country, Poles will be in Lithuanian parties. The one last comment: we need firmer support from Polish authorities to our issues because without it it will be hard to preserve our Polishness, however it is.
by Tadeusz Jarmołowicz
Translated by Julita Filant within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.