Published: 13 february 2013 11:54

Lithuanian president slams foreign minister's apology to Poland

Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaitė criticized Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius for his apology to Poland, saying that only elected, not appointed officials, could make statements on behalf of the state.
Dalia Grybauskaitė
Juliaus Kalinsko/ nuotr. / Dalia Grybauskaitė

"Only officials who are elected by the nation, not appointed, can make statements on behalf of the state," the president told journalists.

She spoke in comment on Linkevičius' apology in an interview to the Polish media last week. The foreign minister expressed regret over the 2010 vote in parliament, which rejected a proposal to allow Lithuania's Polish-speaking citizens to spell their names in official documents using non-Lithuanian characters.

"It is a big disgrace. President Lech Kaczynski was a good friend of Lithuania. Unfortunately, this happened during his visit. I was not a member of parliament at the time but I'd like to apologize," the minister said in an interview published by the Rzeczpospolita daily last Thursday.

"I am so ashamed of what happened at the time. It's a painful lesson for us," he told Gazeta Wyborcza.

In April 2010, the Seimas of Lithuania voted down a bill proposed by the conservative government on allowing to write Latin-based surnames in ID documents in the original form without transcrabing them phonetically. The bill was then supported by Grybauskaitė.

Shortly after the vote and the Smolensk tragedy, Kubilius had expressed regret over the decision, which he said was a mistake and improper farewell to the killed Polish president.

The incumbent government of Social Democratic Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius has pledged in its program to settle the issues of name-spelling in documents as well as bilingual street signs in the light of the Council of Europe's Framework Convention of Protection of National Minorities.

Butkevičius, who abstained in the 2010 vote, said on Tuesday he had nothing to apologize for in Poland.

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