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Lithuanian ambassador's letter to the Econimist: Polish minority has exceptionally good conditions

Lenkų protesto akcija Vilniuje
Andriaus Vaitkevičiaus / 15min nuotr. / Lenkų protesto akcija Vilniuje
Šaltinis: BNS

Lithuania's Ambassador to the United Kingdom Oskaras Jusys has sent a letter to The Economist underlining that the Polish minority in Lithuania is not discriminated against and has exceptionally good conditions to receive education in the Polish language. In response to the weekly's recent article on Lithuanian-Polish bilateral relations, the diplomat said Polish people have better conditions to receive education in their mother-tongue in Lithuania than in any other country.

"It should be noted that all stages of teaching, from kindergarten to university, are available for the Polish minority in Lithuania in their mother tongue. This is unique in Europe. Indeed, the branch of Bialystok University in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, is the only Polish higher-education institution established abroad," Jusys writes.

In his words, the new Law on Education matches the international practice and creates conditions for ethnic minorities to master the Lithuanian language.

"The recent reforms in our education system, including the teaching of some additional subjects in Lithuanian in ethnic-minority schools, are not discriminatory. Until now, these schools have only had the Lithuanian language itself taught in Lithuanian; all other subjects were taught in the minority language," the ambassador said.

"This minimal teaching meant that many pupils failed to master Lithuanian. This is in sharp contrast to minority schools in other countries, where most subjects are taught in the majority language," Jusys writes, adding that Lithuania also introduced a transition period.

"Furthermore, land restitution in the Vilnius region, where the largest number of Lithuanian citizens of Polish origin live, is more than 90 percent complete and will be fully accomplished by 2013. And finally, Lithuania fully adheres to the provisions of the Lithuanian-Polish treaty of 1994, which gives Lithuanian Poles the right to spell their names according to how the Polish language sounds," the Lithuanian ambassador stressed.

The Economist published an article last month saying that neighboring countries and international organizations are concerned about Lithuanian-Polish disagreements over ethnic minorities.

"Outsiders (including America), neighbors (chiefly Sweden), NATO and the European Commission are worried. They are backing mediation started last year by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)," the weekly claimed, adding that the tensions posed risks to strategic projects, and "each side feels it is owed an apology by the other."

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