- August 12, 2016
The Association of Poles in Lithuania: National minorities in Lithuania are being dragged into politicking
Recently, one of the leading Lithuanian Internet portals published the results of a survey conducted by the company “Baltijos tyrimai / Gallup” commissioned by the Center for the Study of Eastern Europe. As its organizers say, 500 Lithuanian citizens of non-Lithuanian nationality participated in it, including representatives of Poles, Russians, and other nationalities, aged from 18 to 74 years old, who reside in the territory of 5 municipalities: Vilnius and regions of Vilnius, Wisaginski, Šalčininkai and Klaipeda.
Respondents were asked various questions that were supposed to determine their civic loyalty towards Lithuania, i.e. regarding the fact whether in case of a threat of assault, they would stand to defend the country. According to the authors’ research, “64.8 percent. of respondents to this question answered positively, while in the regions of Vilnius and Salcininkai, the number of such people is 42 per cent., in Vilnius – 48.3 per cent., while in Klaipeda and Visaginas – 51.8 percent.
More detailed analysis of those statements was presented, sorting Lithuanian citizens to more or less loyal and disloyal according to their nationality.
The Main Board of the Association of Poles in Lithuania is concerned that once again in the country, there are occurring attempts of undermining the loyalty of the largest ethnic groups – citizens of the Republic of Lithuania – who have lived in the state for many generations. The values, which are passed to their pupils by schools providing education in a minority language, are being questioned as well.
National minorities are getting dragged into politicking and ethnic disagreements are being provoked. Also, national minorities are subjected to a negative attitude towards them from the side of the representatives of the “majority.”
It is characteristic that every time, during a period of the upcoming elections, excesses of a similar nature are repeated in Lithuania. It should be regretted that in the country, both individuals as well as organizations and institutions (such as the aforementioned politically engaged Center for the Study of Eastern Europe), still make attempts to kindle ethnic feuds among Lithuanian citizens, not accepting the fact that Lithuania is a multinational country, whose citizens have (should have) equal rights and obligations. It is regrettable that their activities that are highly harmful to the state are being honored and rewarded by the leaders of Lithuania.
Such an undermining the principles of equal citizenship, guaranteed by the Lithuanian Constitution, can be qualified as an expression of lack of loyalty towards Lithuania, since in this way its credibility as a democratic state, which guarantees and respects the fundamental rights of human and citizen is being undermined.
Deliberate and biased sorting by nationality is highly shameful. In countries with deeply rooted democratic traditions, in countries that respect human rights, the fact of conducting similar studies would be treated as a manifestation of xenophobia and racism.
The Main Board of the Association of Poles in Lithuania condemns the actions leading to both a confrontation among national minorities, as well as to opposing their majority, forming a negative opinion in a society regarding the citizenship and performing obligations towards the country of residence.
Statement of the Board of APL
President of the Association of Poles in Lithuania
Translated by Aleksandra Nowakowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.