Polish foreign minister: We should promote Polish-speakers’ involvement in Lithuania’s statehood

Grzegorz Schetyna

His comments came in response to a question by the Polish Dziennik Gazeta Prawna newspaper as to “how Lithuanian-Polish relations look in the context of ‘the People’s Republic of Wilno/Vilnius” provocation'”.

“It’s an act of provocation put in the context of resentment, complicated relations, complicated history and municipal elections. We are speaking about this with the Lithuanians. We must look for things that unite us. We cannot get offended all the time. We are a bigger nation and it’s a challenge for us on this issue. We should make an effort in ensuring the rights of Lithuanian Poles but we should also promote their involvement in Lithuania’s statehood,” the Polish minister said.

Lithuania has been criticized by Poland many times for alleged failure to ensure the rights of the Polish-speaking minority in Lithuania, including the issues of name-spelling and bilingual street and location signs in areas densely populated by ethnic minorities.

In the wake of Russia’s intervention into Ukraine, Lithuanian and Polish politicians have been playing up the need to stand united.

The Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, the party representing the country’s Polish-speakers which traditionally forms election coalitions with a Russian party, has recently come under fire both in Vilnius and Warsaw for its pro-Kremlin position.

In early February, Lithuanian prosecutors launched a pre-trial investigation into a Facebook group promoting the “People’s Republic of Wilno/Vilnius” but have failed to identify any suspects yet.

The 2011 census shows that 200,000 ethnic Poles live in Lithuania, making 6.6 percent of the population.

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