- September 27, 2017
Thaw before the reset
The visit of Marshal of the Sejm Marek Kuchciński – it is some kind of breakthrough in polish-lithuanian relations. A symbolic comeback – said the Polish Ambassador Urszula Doroszewska – about the eastern policy of Lech Kaczyński.
Visit of such rank of Polish representatives has not taken place for a long time. The visit became possible because geopolitical situation forces our countries to the agreement.
Before 2014 we could play and divagate who’s toys are better, then right now such policy – is a grist for the Kremlin’s mill. Lithuanian elites finally understood who you need to talk to in Poland – two meeting of Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis with Jarosław Kaczyński is the proof. Lithuania has solved few problematic issues in our relations.
The previous government of Algirdas Butkevičius paid more attention to national minorities. Department of national minorities has been recreated in Polish Government, the problem of two-language street plates has been solved (at least partially), government offices provide services to customers in national minority languages. The government of Saulius Skvernelis has made one step further – the conflict between Orlen with Lithuanian national railways has been regulated, the conflict of accrediting polish schools as long middle schools has been solved, from the next year on 3 polish tv channels will come back to Vilnius Region. We cannot name it yet as a full polish-lithuanian reset, but we are surely having thaw period right now. Solving the rest of the problems will decide if the thaw turns into reset, and reset into the strategic partnership. Marek Kuchciński told about it in Vilnius: ‘Poles live in Lithuania, same as Lithuanians, they are successors of the same country that was created in XIV century. Those citizens deserve the respect of their rights of culture, education, language and presence in society’. One of the issues – which Marek Kuchciński told about today in Sejm (26th of September) is the problem of original spelling of non-lithuanian names and surnames. I wrote about it more than once – the problem of letter ‘w’ is a symbolic problem, practically it concerns hundreds or even thousands of people. Thanks to politicians and media the problem has become a symbolic problem of all the rest in our relations. Everyone who wants to bring to the reset of polish-lithuanian relations will have to face it. Voting for the bill legalizing letters ‘x’, ‘q’, and ‘w’ will show if the attitude of Lithuanian establishment to Poles will actually change or not.
‘Durin past few years, since 2010, it was very rare when Polish representatives visited Lithuania. If we compare it to times of Lech Kaczyński being a president, then during 4 years he visited Lithuania 16 times. And it was effective. (…) A wide range of contacts, meeting representatives of parliament, Sejm Committees, bilateral groups and Marshals of Sejm of both countries should be effective and should help to solve difficult issues. It is hard to knock down the walls we have built, but conversations can lead to agreements’.
said Marek Kuchciński. I have been writing the same thing for all these 8 years on my blog. As long as we are having a conversation, there is a chance to solve all of these problems. When we don’t talk, the number of problems is rising. It is in the interest of everyone.
Of Lithuania – Good relations create fundaments to speeding up of projects that are strategic for Lithuanian safety: gas interconnector, Via Baltica, LitLink, cooperation in the area of defence and energy safety.
Of Poland, because Lithuania is a devoted ally in NATO, in the fight for a proper shape of eastern policy. The ally who understands concerns of Warsaw related to Russia like no one else. But most of all – Poles in Lithuania, because these problems can be solved only by polish-lithuanian cooperation. Everyone who shouts out loud ‘NO’ to polish-lithuanian reset – makes harm to Poles in Lithuania.
What’s more, good relations between Poland and Lithuania lead to constructive polish-lithuanian discussion in Vilnius Region. And there are plenty of subjects to be discussed. Especially in the area of education. If in Vilnius only every third polish family sends it’s kids to polish school – then we have a problem. The problem which can be solved only by us. Skvernelis, Prancketis, Kaczyński or Kuchciński will not order to send polish kids to polish schools. It is us who can convince our friends, relatives that polish school is attractive. And it is only us who can make it happen.
Translated by Agnieszka Piontek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.