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Lithuanian class war

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 05.09.2011 10:32
A strike at schools for the Polish minority in Lithuania has been suspended for two weeks following a visit by Prime Minister Donald Tusk to the Baltic state.
photo - PR


Polish schools had objected vehemently to new regulations that insist on Lithuanian as the language of instruction in certain academic subjects.

However, the Polish PM's visit to Lithuania over the weekend appears to have forestalled the ultimatum - for a fortnight at the very least.

During Tusk's talks with his counterpart Andrius Kubilius at the coastal resort of Palanga, it was decided that a special team will be created to clarify the conditions of Polish schools in Lithuania. The governments hope that the matter will be resolved as swiftly as possible.

The deputy ministers of education for both countries will bolster the ranks of the group. The first meeting will be next week, in Lithuania, followed by another a week later in Poland.

“The realities of Polish education in Lithuania will be under the constant, special care of the Polish government,” Tusk assured.

Waldemar Tomaszewski, an MEP and the leader of Lithuania's Electoral Action for Poles party, welcomed the developments.

“We cherish the hope that this will be resolved,” he told Polish Radio.

Large portions of Lithuania lay within Poland's borders during the inter-war years. Following the Second World War, and the absorption of Lithuania into the Soviet Union, Stalin compelled thousands of ethnic Poles to resettle within Poland's newly redrawn borders.

Since the collapse of the Iron Curtain, ethnic Poles that had remained in Lithuania have attempted to secure a number of rights. Matters have included the right to spell their names in Polish in official documents, as well as the inclusion of Polish names on streets and monuments.

Likewise, in the field of education, Polish schools reacted vociferously against recent encroachments that insisted on Lithuanian as a language of instruction in certain subjects.

Meanwhile, Lithuanians counter that given that the ethnic Poles are effectively Lithuanian citizens, the schoolchildren should become competent in the language of the state. (nh/pg)

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