• June 19, 2015
  • 286

Vice-mayor of Vilnius: Reorganisation of Polish schools means undercover assimilation

The decision made by the Commission of the Lithuanian Language and the reorganisation of the Polish schools contributed yet again to putting Polish minority issues in the spotlight. The media and politicians began mangling this topic yet another time.

Vice-mayor of Vilnius, Gintautas Paluckas, criticized the reorganisation of the Polish schools in Vilnius and referred to the history of the Polish-Lithuanian relations. The politician is convinced that most of the Lithuanians are still looking at the Poles with regard of the interwar period. The capture of Vilnius by Lucjan Żeligowski is still considered as an occupation, even though, in the interwar Vilnius among 470 thousand inhabitants only 7 thousand were of Lithuanian ethnicity. In response to the taking of the historical capital, Polish schools in Kaunas Municipality were being closed.

“How ‘optimisation’ of the school network in Vilnius now differs from the systematic closures then? (…) Unfortunately, the result is that together with the reorganisation comes the disappearance of the natural environment for the development of the ethnic culture of the Vilniu’s Poles. This undercover assimilation causes their resistance”, wrote Paluckas for delfi.lt.

“This opposition of the ethnic majority brings up the picture of a seized city in the consciousness of the Lithuanians and leads to conflict and polarization of Vilnius on the ethnic level. Do we really need this in the present geopolitical situation?”, the politician added.

During the last meeting, the Vilnius City Council decided that classes 11 to 12 will not be formed in the J. Lelewel Secondary School. 23 councillors voted in support of this decision and 23 were against or abstained from voting. In such case, the mayor of the city has the deciding vote. Remigijus Šimašius voted in support of this idea.

The school competed for the possibility of realisation of the specialist education programme, that is elementary, primary and secondary education along with the engineering education. A commission formed by the Ministry of Education and Science as far as in May decided that the school cannot proceed to accreditation. The signals coming from the Ministry were straightforward. According to them the school had no chance for realisation of the secondary education programme with an engineering profile. The school’s community, however, did not give up.

The decision against, made by the Commission of the Lithuanian Language, which at the request of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs once again considered whether the non-Lithuanian names and surnames should be commonly originally spelled, reverberated in the Lithuanian media. As portal alkas.lt reports, according to the Committee, the right to write names and surnames with the use of the letters that do not exist in the Lithuanian alphabet belongs only to the foreigners who acquired Lithuanian citizenship, their spouses and children.

Substantial part of Lithuanian journalists and politicians were outraged at this decision. “The right to write surnames with original spelling should belong to every Lithuanian citizen, without any exceptions”, stated the chief of Lithuanian diplomacy Linas Linkevičius.

Known Lithuanian publicist, Rimvydas Valatka, suggested to close down such commission. “Linguists have painted themselves into a corner from which they cannot escape. They are in it since 25 years. The more commissions, the more problems for the ordinary citizens. I would suggest the Seimas to seriously consider closing down this commission”, he said for LRT Valatka. “Lithuanians are a smart nation. With the help of the letter ‘w’, someone is trying to make a fool out of them. I really hope that the Seimas proves once and for all that the Lithuanians are a wise nation”, the journalist added.

BNS journalist Ketlerius Artūras wrote on his Facebook profile that the patriarch of Lithuanianness, Jonas Basanavičius, wrote his surname with the use of the letter ‘w’. Artūras also placed a meme in his post, in which Basanavičius states “If I was in this commission, I would allow to use the ‘w’ in surnames”.

15min.lt journalist Šarūnas Černiauskas have put his photo on Facebook with a caption “Czerniawski”.

Other known persons have begun placing hashtags with their polonized surnames in the internet. Haroldas Mackevičius placed #jesuismackiewicz, and Nerijus Maliukevičius published #jesuismalukiewicz.

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

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