• October 13, 2017
  • 471

Czesław Okińczyc: Never say ‘never’

James Bond used to say “Never say ‘never’”. I don’t know how well this works in other fields. But in Lithuanian politics – especially in politics of the EAPL–CFA – it is completely accurate. Columnists and activists of our Polish party have shed crocodile tears over the anti-Polish Šimašius and liberals. How harshly have both I and the Radio “Znad Wilii” been criticized for the apparent support of “blue humanoids” (if I may use Waldemar Tomaszewski’s terminology)!

This criticism is unfair. Radio “Znad Wilii” and website zw.lt are informative, and don’t support any political party. We equally criticize liberals, social democrats or the EAPL–CFA for wrong decisions. Similarly, we praise them for correct ones. And so, surprisingly, after Remigijus Šimašius removed the conservatives from the Vilnius ruling coalition, the EAPL-CFA is to replace them.

I know that officially the EAPL–CFA hasn’t joined the coalition, and has chosen to remain as its “constructive opposition”. However, I don’t think anyone has doubts that the coalition has awarded the post of vice mayor for political support. For several months, one could feel a trend of cooperation among the liberals, social democrats and Polish-Russian fractions in the Vilnius City Council. This trend can only result in good decisions both for Poles living in Vilnius and for other Vilnians. Solving the long overdue dispute over accreditation of Polish schools in Vilnius as “prolonged gymnasiums” will help Poles. Vilnians will welcome new buses in public transport. It’s a win-win situation.

I am glad that after two years of arguments and calling one another green or blue humanoids the two largest fractions in the Vilnius City Council came to their senses and to an agreement. It is surely to the benefit of both Vilnians and Poles living in Vilnius.

“If there exist universal truths, one of them would be that national minorities shouldn’t remain in the opposition. (…) As Poles, we shouldn’t be concerned about disputes between the right and left wing, liberals and conservatives, and social democrats and nationalists. Our representatives in the Seimas are there to solve problems distinctly ours” – I repeat what I wrote a year ago. Of course I wrote this when there were discussions if the EAPL-CFA should join Saulius Skvernelis.

Similarly to what is happening now with the Vilnius coalition, Waldemar Tomaszewski hesitated if he should join the ruling coalition. He was eventually caught between both sides: joining neither the government nor the opposition. So in reality he supported the former. However, even this awkward stance was fruitful: several problematic issues in Polish-Lithuanian relations were resolved the same year (e.g. Orlen Lietuva’s dispute with Lithuanian Railways). Hopefully they will settle several other issues in the near future. Had the EAPL-CFA joined the government on formal terms, they could’ve accomplished more.

A similar thing can happen again. Renowned political posts can only help the EAPL–CFA accomplish a lot as “political opposition”. They can achieve even more from the position of an official coalition partner of the liberals and social democrats.

All this can happen under one condition: that the EAPL-CFA has an action plan. I hope they have such a plan for their, but also our, benefit.

Czesław Okińczyc

Signatory of the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Lithuania

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

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