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President Bronislaw Komorowski: Both Lithuania and Poland must show good faith on their national minority issue

Vasario 16-osios iškilmės: vėliavų pakėlimas ir mišios Arkikatedroje
Andriaus Ufarto/BFL nuotr. / Bronislaw Komorowski
Šaltinis: BNS

If ethnic minority issues become an obstacle to good relations between countries, then they should be dealt with in both countries benevolently, President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski has said at a meeting with Polish Lithuanians on Friday.

Despite recent tensions between Lithuania and Poland, he said he believed in a good future of Lithuanian-Polish relations.

"This is why I wanted to meet today so that I could express to all of you my firm belief and deep conviction that, despite various difficulties we are talking about today, the press is writing and we are experiencing, to my mind, all emerging processes encourage us to think about the future of the best Polish-Lithuanian relations. If ethnic minority problems, involving Polish people living in Lithuania, become an obstacle to good states' policy, in that case it's worth dealing with ethnic minority problems in both states benevolently. It’s worth benevolently looking at the way the Polish minority in Lithuania functions," the Polish president told Lithuanian people living in Punsk.

Meanwhile Polish Lithuanians asked Komorowski to be their guardian.

"Such a request was really made to Mr. President to be our guardian. We need all-round help," Mayor of Punsk Gmina Vytautas Liskauskas told BNS.

In his words, due time pressure, they did not discuss all problems Polish Lithuanians are facing with Komorowski, but key issues were touched upon.

"There was a lack of time and although Mr. President was aware of certain things, we needed to tell him everything on most issues," Liskauskas said.

Funding of Lithuanian schools and the lack of Lithuanian textbooks was one of the key issues discussed.

"Lithuanians are practically the only ethnic minority in Poland which gives classes in schools in their language. (…) These schools need separate support as we always incur double costs as Polish schools have to be established near Lithuanian schools if Polish people live there," Liskauskas said.

The monument issue was also discussed with the Polish president. The Lithuanian community is concerned over the fact that new monuments are erected in Berzniki, Sejny, which incite conflicts between Polish and Lithuanian people and humiliate Lithuanian soldiers, killed during the Polish-Lithuanian conflict in 1920 and buried in the local cemetery.

"It's a demonstration that Lithuanians are bad. Such demonstration is not necessary where we live," the Punsk mayor said.

Liskauskas said it was agreed that Polish Lithuanians would send various documents and requests on various subjects important for Lithuanians to presidential advisers and ministers.

According to data provided by Lithuania's Embassy in Poland, around 15,000 people of Lithuanian origin live in Poland, mainly in Sejny and Punsk near the Lithuanian-Polish border.

Lithuanian people living in Poland have recently said they do not feel safe and called themselves hostages to Lithuanian-Polish relations.

Lithuanian-Polish relations have been tense lately amid disagreements over certain issues regarding ethnic minorities, including spelling of Polish names, bilingual street signs, and education.

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