• September 21, 2019
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Warzecha: The problem with maintaining Polishness in Lithuania lies somewhere deeper

“There are many social processes that cannot be steered by law, they cannot be shaped from above. When it comes to the development of the Polish culture and language in Lithuania, it is obvious that laws and regulations can only help to stimulate it, but in fact it is the people that must find it attractive and necessary” – says Łukasz Warzecha, a well-known Polish journalist, publicist, collaborator of the ‘DoRzeczy’ weekly, the Polish Radio and other media, who was the guest of “Day for two voices” programme of Znad Wilii Radio. On Saturday, Warzecha will take part in the “Vilnius 2040” Festival of Social Initiatives organized by the Polish Discussion Club.

“I was in Vilnius six years ago and it is a very interesting comparison, to see how Vilnius has changed. That the city has modernized is visible at first glance. I wonder how it affected the situation of Poles because it certainly influenced it somehow” – said the journalist.

“Six years ago, when I heard that the Russian language was making good progress in Lithuania, I found it interesting that this was not the result of some devious Russian propaganda, but it was happening on its own. Already then it was at the expense of the Polish language. I am afraid that this is still happening and that the situation is worse than it was before. So we must think about how to deal with it” – said Łukasz Warzecha, who will moderate a panel entitled “Attractive Polishness: Polish culture, education, media, and Polish language in Lithuania” during the PKD’s Festival of Social Initiatives.

“If there is a problem with maintaining Polishness in Lithuania, it lies somewhere deeper. It would be easy to say – it is the malice of the Lithuanian authorities who do not want to recognize [us], who are pushing the use of the Lithuanian language, and then there’s also Russian intelligence, and we are under such an attack. Nevertheless, I have the impression – maybe I am wrong – that these are not entirely the reasons. For me, for example, it is puzzling to know that Lithuanian Poles consider Polish to be the least prestigious of the three languages. The most prestigious is Lithuanian, which is so far clear to me since it’s tied to the development of the Lithuanian state and full involvement in the public life in Lithuania. But the Russian language comes second. And now you have to ask yourself – what has happened that for Poles, the largest national minority, Polish has become the least prestigious language. Maybe you need to look for the reason within yourself. Maybe something wrong is going on here, maybe it is a matter of some internal conflicts. I look at it completely from the outside, I am not an expert here. I know that such conflicts existed, but I’m not going to dive deeper into them, although I know that they do a lot of harm, especially in a situation where a given minority is somewhat surrounded” – Łukasz Warzecha contemplated.

According to the journalist, information about Poles in Lithuania, as well as Lithuania in general, hardly reaches Poland.

“All the Baltic States, especially Lithuania, are very important historically, but also strategically for Poland, they are the last border of the North Atlantic Alliance. And nothing. This topic is not present in the media at all, we are focused only on ourselves. It is pushed into purely hobbyist media corners. It seems to me that this should not be the case, especially since Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are countries where we could observe certain techniques of Moscow’s influence on the public opinion and the security reality. There are various, really doubtful things happening here – the very broadcast of Russian-language TV or radio channels and the kind of propaganda that is shown there – it is attractive to many people. It would be very worth to take a closer look at it, but it is what it is.”

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

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