Lithuanian parliament to pick up ethnic minority bill in spring

Seimas of Lithuania
DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

At a meeting on Thursday, the prime minister and members of the Council of National Minorities agreed that, although all ethnic minority rights in Lithuania are ensured by the Constitution, various laws and international legal acts, and the ratified Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, an ethnic minority law is also necessary, the government said in a press release.

Butkevičius assured the bill should be included into the agenda of the spring session.

A few versions of the law have been registered at the Seimas secretariat, and the government has pledged to propose one of its own.

The most advanced bill, which has already passed the phases of proposition and discussion, is the draft law proposed by Jaroslav Narkevič of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania. It suggests reinstating the earlier version of the law to allow the use of the minority language in state institutions and organizations in areas with sizable minority populations. The law also envisages bilingual signs.

Nevertheless, the parliament has excluded the bilingual signs from the initial version during the debate last July.

During Thursday’s meeting, Butkevičius also emphasized that the relative number of ethnic minority schools operating in Lithuania is highest in Europe (more than 70 Polish-language schools and over 50 Russian-language schools).

According to the latest census of 2011, persons of 154 ethnicities reside in Lithuania, accounting for 15.8 percent of the population.

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