The president thus commented on a question whether Lithuania should respond to a request by the Lithuanian community in Poland to mediate in its dialogue with Warsaw for the three Punsk schools to avoid closure.
"I have already talked with Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius on the situation of these schools. We have received figures from the mayor of Punsk Gmina on how many students the schools have and how much funds they need. I would like to remind you that Lithuania maintains even very small ethnic minority schools with six, eight or nine students in Vilnius and Šalčininkai region. I mean schools of our ethnic minorities, i.e., Polish schools," the president told journalists on Thursday.
"I think it's Lithuania's duty to negotiate with the Government of Poland. Not only with the Government of Poland, but also find means to help maintain some key schools outside our borders. Lithuania does that and I hope Poland will also take that into account on a parity basis," Grybauskaitė said.
It was announced on Wednesday that Polish Lithuanians have asked the Government of Lithuania's mediation in the dialogue with Polish authorities for three Lithuanian schools in Poland's Punsk Gmina not to be closed.
According to news portal punskas.pl, a letter to the Lithuanian government was signed by several dozen people, including principals of three Lithuanian schools in Vidugiriai, Pristavonys and Navinykai as well as teachers and students' parents.
There are at least 10 Polish schools with under 50 students in Lithuania.
In late 2011, the Government of Lithuania allocated LTL 350,000 (around EUR 100,000) from the Privatization Fund to Lithuanian schools in Punsk. It was the first time Lithuanian authorities provided direct financial support to Lithuanian schools in Poland. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said then that "Poland's education policy is not favorable to Lithuanian schools."