• June 29, 2019
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Pranckietis: Our Task is to Maintain Current Relations Between Lithuania and Poland

The challenge for both Lithuania and Poland is to maintain the current excellent and creative relations between the two countries — says the Speaker of Seimas [the Lithuanian parliament, TN] Viktoras Pranckietis to PAP [The Polish Press Agency, TN] on the eve of the 450th anniversary of the signing of the Union of Lublin.

“Our task and challenge is to maintain the present excellent and creative relations between Poland and Lithuania. The level of the relations now is comparable to relations under the leadership of the late Polish president Lech Kaczyński and the Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus,” said Mr. Pranckietis.

The Speaker emphasized that “for Lithuania, relations with Poland had always been very important, they continue to be and will remain so.” “We are geographically close to each other. We will not change that, and in such a situation maintaining good relations is the most beneficial,” he pointed out.

In his view “the signing the Polish-Lithuanian Union 450 years ago was a unique event”. “For Lithuania, it was a way to preserve independence, to defend against enemies, and to find a way to grow and become stronger” – he stressed.

Mr. Pranckietis reminded that the Union of Lublin was the first example in history of good cooperation between two countries on a regional level, not only in the military and defense fields but also in political and cultural aspects. “This union served as an example of good cooperation to the British and Scots. And even nowadays, it remains a valuable contribution to the modern political life.”

However, in the collective consciousness of Lithuanians, the opinion that as a result of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Lithuania lost its state independence and was linguistically and culturally dominated by a stronger and larger Poland is still widespread.

“Let’s leave the assessment of this Union to historians. In my view, Lithuania kept its sovereignty then and it is a positive fact. Indeed, Lithuania lost its statehood, but the question of whether our country could preserve it without the union with Poland remains,” wonders Mr. Pranckietis.

The Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas does not believe that it is in fear of Polishness dating back to the time of the Union of Lublin, that for 25 years Lithuanian politicians still refuse to allow Lithuanian Poles to keep the original spelling of their surnames in official Lithuanian documents.

In his opinion, this unwillingness is rather a result of many years of the Soviet propaganda, when “for many generations, they wanted to set our two nations at loggerheads by repeating, e.g. that Lithuanians are just peasants and Poles are noblemen.”

“Now, there is no need to worry about Polish domination,” says Mr. Pranckietis. He also emphasized that all bilateral talks are held based on parity and in line with the principle of independence and equality.

“As far as domination is concerned, I recognize it only in the fact that I know the Polish language, but many Lithuanians know it too and it makes us richer,’’ said Pranckietis. He added that “youngsters, Lithuanians in Poland and Poles in Lithuania, who know both languages well are our link and thanks to them our countries are getting closer to each other.”

Recalling the role that the parliaments of both countries played 450 years ago, when the Lublin Union was created, Mr. Pranckietis highlighted the role of them nowadays in the development of further cooperation between Lithuania and Poland.

The Speaker reminded that the work of the Polish-Lithuanian parliamentary assembly has been relaunched more than a year ago. This year, the Speakers of the Sejm and the Senate of Poland visited Lithuania five times. Their parliamentary groups also cooperate.

“We have become friends and this creates a good atmosphere and affects the attitude of Lithuanians and Poles towards each other,” claims Mr. Pranckietis. He pointed out that there are no unfavorable texts about Poles in the Lithuanian press, and it is a progress as some years ago there were many of them. “The general manner of dialogue has changed, and it is thanks to both parliaments,” said the Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas.

In two weeks, on July 12th, the new president of Lithuania, Gitanas Nausėda will be sworn in. On July 16th, the Lithuanian president will visit Warsaw with his first visit abroad. According to Mr. Pranckietis, this will be another new opening in the relations between the two countries.

Viktoras Pranckietis will be the head of the Lithuanian delegation in Poland during the celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Union of Lublin.

According to the Press Secretary of the Speaker of the Sejm, during the visit Mr. Pranckietis will be awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland [Polish: Order Zasługi Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, TN].

“I consider it to be a symbol of the friendship and effort to strengthen the bonds between our nations,” said the Speaker.

Mr. Pranckietis expressed his gratitude to both houses of the Polish parliament — the Marshal of the Sejm Marek Kuchciński and the Marshal of the Senate Stanisław Karczewski — for “important joint actions towards bilateral relations” that allowed us to “call one another friends, to celebrate  together anniversaries that are important for our countries, to respect each other and to speak with one voice.”

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

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