• May 9, 2017
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Situation of polish minorities in Lithuania is a discrimination of EU citizens

Tomasz Snarski, lawyer and Doctor of juridical science, author of petition no358/2011 on language rights of Poles living in Lithuania, once again has shown matter of polish minority discrimination in area of language and education rights. He made an appeal to European Parliament to take legal and political steps aiming to solve the problem by European cooperation and with respect to fundamental rights of citizens of EU.

T. Snarski says that including his petition to EP proceedings in the field of discrimination and protecting minorities is a success, because it has been concluded after six years of struggling, that issues raised in petition cover not only educating problems, but whole problem of discrimination of polish minority and it stays within the remit of union’s institutions.

‘I am very satisfied that finally after six years of work, nobody questions anymore the legitimacy of European institutions working on it.’ During the meeting on the 4th of May he said that ‘until a Pole from Lithuania is not able to open his or her passport and see the name in mother tongue, we can not tell that we are caring about fundamental rights in EU. Such situation can not take place in the XXI century.’

Petition on language rights of Poles in Lithuania has been filed on the 31st of March 2011. Public hearing in this case, along with Governments of Poland and Lithuania took place in 2012. European Commission twice prepared legal evaluation, moreover EP twice wrote official letter to Lithuanian authorities asking to clarify the situation of polish minority in Lithuania. Reply of Lithuanian Government has been dissatisfying.

Author of the petition explains reasons why it is being examined for so long: Subject of Polish minority has been a matter of interest of EP for so long, which proves how major the problem is. In my opinion, petition should be left open until Lithuania adopts proper legislation guaranteeing national and ethnic minorities language rights on at least minimum European level. A complaint is filed to main European institution about way Lithuania is treating polish minority, all thanks to examination of the petition. It can not be ignored by Lithuania and EU’.

It is an exceptional situation when the author of petition is being listened to twice, when examining only one petition. It may provide prove that MEP share concerns found in the petition, concerning situation of polish minority in Lithuania.

Further careers of petition depend on support of MEP and their decision.

MEP Waldemar Tomaszewski supports the petition. He initiated the action of supporting it. He also took part in the first public hearing.

‘It is important that the case has not been closed and explanations of Lithuania did not satisfy members of Petition Commission. They were unclear, not precised and did not refer to international law instruments, which tell about obeying rights of national minorities in all countries. Increasing amount of MEP is interested in the subject of discrimination of Poles on the grounds of language in Lithuania’ – Another public hearing is commented by Dr Bogusław Rogalski – politologyst, advisor of European Conservatives and Reformists in EP.

Since the very beginning Jarosław Wałęsa has been active in the petition case.

Anyone can send us a short letter supporting the petition nr 0358/2011 – Language rights of Poles in Lithuania, on peti-secretariat@ep.europa.eu.

It is not the only activity within the EP in the area of polish minority in Lithuania. Politician from Lithuania, Waldemar Tomaszewski, is a member of intergroup for “Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages in EP. One of the meetings of the group was focused on disobeying rights of polish minorities in Lithuania, as well as educational rights. In the nearest future the intergoup will focus on discrimination of polish minority n Lithuania. The intergroup wrote a letter to Lithuanian authorities, signed by politicians from various membership countries, protesting against discrimination of polish minority in this country.

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

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