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‘Lithuania must safeguard Polish minority rights’

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 16.09.2011 12:50
Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has said Poland has been waiting for 20 years for Lithuania to fulfill regulations guaranteeing basic rights to the Polish minority in the Baltic state.


“The problem is that not much has been done,” Sikorski told Polish Radio, Friday morning.

“We were promised standard solutions to make people’s lives easier, assurances that there shall be no attempts at forced changes of [national] identity, By this, I meaning that [ethnic Poles] would be allowed to spell their names according to their will. We’ve been waiting 20 years and this has not happened,” Sikorski added, in what is the latest development in a long-running conflict over the rights of the around 250,00 ethnic Poles living in Lithuania.

Polish-Lithuanian talks are to be held in Warsaw next Monday on reforms to Lithuania’s education system.

The changes to the law will force Polish students being taught at Polish schools to take Lithuanian language instruction for history and geography classes and an obligatory high school leaving exam in Lithuanian at the same level as for all other students.

The new education law also permits closure of ethnic schools as an alternative to shutting down general schools in case of lack of an adequate number of pupils.
The education reforms have been bitterly resisted by Polish minority organizations in Lithuania.

The Lithuanian government has responded by accusing ethnic Poles of disloyalty to Lithuania.

This morning Minister Sikorski said Poles in Lithuania are a well organized community having even elected an MEP from their ranks.

Poland’s head of diplomacy expressed hope the Polish minority postulates shall finally receive due attention from Lithuanian authorities. (ss/pg)

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