- February 17, 2018
Presidents of Poland and Lithuania: Issues of the Polish minority will be resolved
Today in the Presidential Palace a meeting of Lithuanian and Polish presidents – Dalia Grybauskaitė and Andrzej Duda took place. The presidents held a face-to-face conversation where the issue of the Polish minority in Lithuania was also discussed.
During the meeting, the presidents of both countries discussed issues related to security, the economy, the new EU budget, as well as the prospect of the forthcoming NATO summit in Brussels. The situation of the Polish minority in Lithuania was also discussed.
“Poland is a very important neighbor for us in the sphere of defense and economy. It is very good that we are walking together in terms of security. In matters of the EU and NATO, our positions work together,” said President Grybauskaitė. She added that Lithuania would support Poland in the matter of the conflict with the EU and announced a visit to Warsaw.
“Poland is the largest economic partner. One of the largest investors ” – added the head of the Lithuanian state.
A new chapter in Polish-Lithuanian relations
Grybauskaitė assured that the problems of the Polish minority in Lithuania will be solved in the near future. “We discussed the issue of education, the return of land. The solution of Polish demands is to be voluntary and this is not a complicated matter “- she added. The president pointed out that the visit of Andrzej Duda in Lithuania opens a new chapter in Polish-Lithuanian relations.
“Today, our relations have gone to another level. They are based on political kindness, without undue pressure. One of the proposals is to renew the work of the commission that previously functioned. She would take care of land restitution, education, exams. We have many minority laws in the Parliament (Sejm). They lead to many discussions, but it should be remembered that laws should be consistent with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania” – emphasized the president.
President Andrzej Duda thanked for the position of Lithuania and support in the dispute with the EC. He also spoke about a meeting with Polish entrepreneurs. “Polish companies contribute to the development of the Lithuanian state – PKN Orlen, PZU, and LOTOS. I spoke to the president about it. All entrepreneurs talked about good cooperation with the Lithuanian state,” said the Polish president.
Speaking about the Polish minority in Lithuania, President Duda pointed out that “these are not visiting people, they are families who live here with the grandfather of the great-grandfather.” “They are loyal citizens of Lithuania. I would like them to keep their Polish tradition. Lithuania as a state has the right to demand that the Lithuanian language will be accepted at the secondary school-leaving examination. But I would like this level of education in Polish to be well implemented, so that later Poles could take their studies and work for the good of Lithuania. I hope that we will discuss these issues gradually as part of the committee. For the sake of our cooperation “- said Duda.
President Duda stressed that the matters of the Polish minority in Lithuania are mostly known. “Let’s approach this issue with ease, let’s do it one by one. Let’s not get down to all at once. The kindness of the president, kindness on the part of the prime minister, with whom we met yesterday in the lobby. I am happy with these conversations, because I see a constructive approach. I am convinced that Prime Minister Morawiecki and the Polish authorities will also want to approach it in an appropriate way”- said the president and remarked that many “expectations are exorbitant, but we will be able to find a solution for most issues”.
Signing an intergovernmental agreement
During the plenary meeting of Poland and Lithuania under the leadership of Andrzej Duda and Dalia Grybauskaitė, an agreement was signed between the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and the Government of the Republic of Poland on border documentation defining the course of the state border line between the Republic of Lithuania and the Republic of Poland. On the Polish side, the agreement was signed by the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, Jan Dziedziczak.
President Duda, together with his wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda, came to Vilnius on Friday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the reconstruction of the Lithuanian State. At the ceremony, several heads of states and heads of European institutions such as from the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the European Council Donald Tusk came to Vilnius.
President Duda started his three-day visit with a meeting with his countrymen at the Polish Culture Center in Vilnius. “Thank you for being good, loyal citizens of the Lithuanian State, although you are of Polish origin. In this way you give testimony about us as Poles “- said the President of the Republic of Poland. He also assured that during the meeting with the Lithuanian president he would discuss the issue of the Polish minority in Lithuania.
“I am here to celebrate with you, together with the Lithuanian authorities, the revival of Lithuanian statehood. But I am also here to meet you and thank you. Thank you for your Polishness, for being together. I am very happy that you can meet in this place. The Polish state has funded this house not long ago, on your initiative, taken together with the late Marshal Andrzej Stelmachowski. It is a place where Polish organizations meet and operate, a place that brings together the Polish community and in which Polishness can grow gradually”- said Andrzej Duda.
Saturday is the last day of the official visit of the President of the Republic of Poland. Today, Andrzej Duda will visit the Ross cemetery, where he will lay a wreath at the Mausoleum of the Mother and the Heart of the Son. At the cemetery he will meet representatives of the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association (ZHP) in Lithuania and the Vilnius Patriotic Youth.
Translated by Katarzyna Widlas within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.