• May 4, 2019
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Venclova: Polish demands must be implemented sooner than later

The Parliamentary Group of the 3rd of May, which has been working for the Polish-Lithuanian agreement for several years, did not limit the celebration of the 3rd of May Constitution to the Parliament’s hall. The celebrations moved to the streets of Vilnius, and leading Lithuanian intellectuals spoke in St. Catherine’s Church.The organizer of the event, at which the State Vilnius Quartet played, was the Group of 3 May and the capital’s local government. “We established the Group of 3rd May at the end of 2016 to look at our history (…). When you do not understand your own history, then you do not understand the present and what the future can bring (…)”. – Andrius Kubilius said at the outset. The Vilnius’ mayor Remigijus Šimašius reminded the audience of a proverb from the eighteenth century: “Who is the Lithuanian? He who loves freedom and respects statutes. Without what cannot Lithuania exist? Without freedom and connection with Poland’. “We have a fourth union with Poland, i.e. the European Union with the most solid foundations”, added the mayor of Vilnius.

Venclova: The demands of the Polish minority will be implemented

The prominent Lithuanian poet and essayist Tomas Venclova in his short lecture emphasized that the Constitution of the 3rd of May is something very important for Lithuanian history. The proof is the fact that the Grand Duchy of Lithuania’s assemblies welcomed the Constitution more enthusiastically than the Crown’s assemblies. Unfortunately, during the national revival in the 19th century, Lithuanians rejected this episode from their consciousness. The communists behaved in a similar way.”Recently, the view that the Constitution has a prominent place in the history of Lithuania and Poland has prevailed. It should be remembered that it was immediately translated into Lithuanian. It was the first so important legal act translated into our language (…) This is the first monument of Lithuanian legal prose” – emphasized Venclova.The famous poet reminded us of Adam Michnik’s words that Polish should treat Lithuania with ten times more sensitivity, because it is 10 times bigger than our country. “Perhaps not 10 times, but 2-3 times certainly. However, Lithuania should treat the Polish minority in Lithuania with the same sensitivity. I hope that the demands of the Polish minority will be implemented sooner or later. And sooner rather than later”. – said the poet.Venclova added that in Poland “May 3rd is the biggest national holiday. In our country it should also be a holiday”.

Okińczyc: I am especially grateful to Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.

The signatory of the Act of Independence of Lithuania, Czesław Okińczyc, said that although the Constitution of May 3 was adopted more than 200 years ago, it still has an important place in the consciousness of Poles and Lithuanians. “However, this year’s May 3rd celebration has a special context. This year we celebrate the 450th anniversary of the Lublin Union, which created the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. A country which not only radiated to the whole region as a symbol of freedom and democracy for the next few centuries, but which has also become a model for the European Union today. This makes the second date of this year all the more symbolic: exactly 15 years ago, in May 2004, Poland and Lithuania joined the European Union. They have become one within the framework of a huge European project and, at the same time, they have retained their individuality. And thus the Constitution of May 3rd entered forever into the treasury of not only the historical but also the political and legal heritage of Europe”. – has declared Okińczyc.In his speech, the signatory thanked Andrius Kubilius for organizing the celebrations. “As a signatory of the Act of Revival of Independence of Lithuania and a Pole, I am proud of the fact that in Lithuania the 3rd of May holiday is becoming more and more popular, with more and more supporters, more and more celebrated. The proof of this is the weekend of the 3rd of May Constitution in Vilnius and, among other things, our today meeting , for which I am particularly grateful to Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius. It was the Parliamentary Group of the 3rd of May, founded by him two years ago, that has been the key to changing the attitude of Lithuanian society towards the 3rd of May Constitution,” Okińczyc said. He expressed his hope that in this term the Parliament would declare 3 May a national holiday and a day off from work. “I am very pleased that today free, independent and friendly nations – Polish and Lithuanian – can again celebrate the day of the enactment of the 3rd of May Constitution. And I hope that the number of celebrating nations will grow year by year. – has marked the signatory.

Jakilaitis: Each of us has to bring his own brick to the wall

Markas Zingeris, a writer and long-term director of the Jewish Museum in Vilnius, emphasized that for him “the 3rd of May Constitution is a symbol of freedom”, because it contributed to the formation of civic attitudes within the Jewish community.Edmundas Jakilaitis, a journalist and the initiator of the national expedition that went to Poland last year, said: “I hope that each of us will bring our own brick to the wall called “historical unity”.The rally rider Benediktas Vanagas informed the audience that he had started to be interested in Poland when Sebastian Rozwadowski became his pilot. Also present at the ceremony was an activist for Ukraine, a Swede living in Lithuania, Jonas Ohman. “In recent years I have learned a few important things. You have to be friends with your own past, friends, freedom,” Ohman said.

Polish-Lithuanian toasts.

After the official ceremony, the participants moved to the nearby pub “Champagneria”, where the Polish Discussion Club organized an informal meeting of politicians, journalists and social activists. The event organizers asked a few guests to give toasts. The first one was Tomas Venclova. “In my dissident times we had two toasts. The first one was “For our and your freedom” and the second one was “For the success of our hopeless cause” – a friend of Miłosz and Brodski joked. The meeting was also attended by well-known Russian journalist and publicist Konstantin von Eggert, who was staying in Lithuania. “Dear Lithuanian and Polish friends, I would like to express my sincere wishes on the occasion of the first written Polish constitution. This is an important day for me, because I have some Polish blood. I think that the slogan ‘For our and your freedom’, which we also knew during the communist dictatorship, is still valid. I am very pleased that it is reminded us in Vilnius. It is important that the EU and NATO countries do not forget that no one simply gives freedom. This is important for our Ukrainian brothers, who are fighting for their lives. I am convinced that one day this slogan will also be valid in Russia, because it must be free. I would therefore like to thank you for your hospitality and wish you freedom,” said Mr Eggert. The toast marathon was finished by Andrius Kubilius. “We can be glad that we are learning more and more about our own history. Thanks to it, we have a sense of our own and your freedom. The march to freedom is not easy, but the light road is not our road. So if someone likes challenges, tomorrow I invite you to a bicycle rally on the trail of historical unity,” said the former Prime Minister.

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

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