• March 23, 2018
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Linkevičius in Soleczniki: We must treat our citizens of every nationality with respect

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius visited the Šalčininkai region, where he met with local government officials, school communities, and entrepreneurs. Officially, the purpose of the visit was to send greetings to the citizens of Solothnik on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of Lithuania’s Independence.However, during the meetings economic issues, national and international minorities were discussed.

“We wanted to know what are the expectations of the local government. To find out what the problems are. From what I have obtained, there are problems with jobs or with investments. We have also raised educational issues that may not necessarily be within our competence, but I will certainly pass on information to my colleagues in the government. We all should care about this. As part of his work, he deals with the problems of Lithuanians living outside the country in a sense that there are issues concerning national minorities. Here in Soleczniki there is a community that has its traditions and expectations and we must listen to its members,” said Linas Linkevičius, who met with the mayor of the region Zdzisław Palewicz and local government officials.

“We must treat our citizens with respect regardless of their nationality. We must solve their problems. When similar problems are solved in other countries, it is also easier for us to solve them “- emphasized the head of Lithuanian diplomacy.

Palewicz: We want to change the image of the region

Zdzisław Palewicz is glad that in the last two years Soleczniki have been often visited by representatives of the central authorities. “This is the 9th minister who came to the Šalčininkai region. Conversations are factual. Our primary goal is to provide objective information about our current situation and about the region. I must admit, that we want to change the image of the region. The region is developing, we do a lot, but some politicians want to see it differently. That is why such visits are very important,” he said.

“Such visits serve to improve our situation, so that people would know that the Šalčininkai region is a friendly region, and hard-working people live here. The region is both, multinational and multilingual. And you must be aware that this is the great wealth of this country,” added Palewicz.

Montvydaitė: Other regions can take the example of Solecznik

Together with the minister, the head of the Department of National Minorities at the government of RL Vida Montvydaitė also came to the Soleczniki. “I am glad that such visits take place,” Montvydaitė said in a conversation “because you can get acquainted with the situation of national minorities.” The head of the institution stressed that the young people in Soleczniki are very interested in Lithuania and are willing to participate in the Department’s projects and initiatives. “Other regions can take an example from Solecznik” – she added.

“One of our priorities is working with young people. The current issue for all communities or diasporas in Lithuania is how to involve youth in their activities. This is important in the age of modern technology, when young people spend a lot of time on the internet and rarely meet in reality. That is why we are thinking how to provide them with traditions and customs “- explained Montvydaitė. Adding that “our priority is also south-eastern Lithuania”. The department is interested in the individual national communities cooperating with each other and thus getting to know each other.

The Deptament Director said that it is important to adopt the Act on National Minorities.

“Currently, four our projects are registered in the Sejm, which differ significantly from each other. In this matter, the Members make their decision. In the last 30 years (since the adoption of the Act on National Minorities) the situation has changed, new nationalities have emerged, which also call themselves national minorities. Therefore, I think they must also participate in the discussion” – explained her view of Montvydaitė.

Meetings in schools

After the meeting with local government officials, the minister visited the Junior High School. Jan Śniadecki, whose students, according to the minister, “speak well and comprehensively in Lithuanian.”

“Together with the mayor and councilors we saw a beautiful movie about your area. Of course, the fact that the region is beautiful, we know nothing from the film,”  said the minister during the meeting with the school community.

Linkevičius pointed out that the Minister of Foreign Affairs is not very often in the Šalčininkai region. “However, we care very much about our international ties. We want your region to attract more investments. We are considering this at the government level and we are conducting talks with the local government. (…) Knowing about your relationships with other countries, especially with Poland, we are very happy with the bettering of our relations. Now we have very constructive contacts,” added the head of Lithuanian diplomacy.
The Minister also visited the Lithuanian Junior High School. under the name of 1000th anniversary of Lithuania.

Linkevičius: Deterioration was something unnatural

The minister had to admit that a visit to the Šalčininkai region had a direct impact on relations with Warsaw.

“At school, I was asked where such a violent improvement of relations with Poland came from. I replied that the deterioration was something unnatural. So it’s natural that we have a good relationship. We are allies, we are members of the EU and NATO, we are neighbors and strategic partners in the fields of defense, security, energy and transport. It would be a mistake not to use these factors,” said Linkevičius.

The head of the Lithuanian diplomacy, as part of the visit, also visited local entrepreneurs of, among others, “Evaldo daržovės” and “Actas”.

Pic. Roman Niedźwiecki

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

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