Lithuanians and Poles were urged to make a truce, at least during Easter, since the majority of people in both countries are Catholics, but a more important question regarding the future situation remains unanswered: what turn will the relations between Lithuanians and Poles, Lithuania and Poland take during the next 20 years, Arunas Brazauskas wrties in Lrt.lt portal on 22 April.?
The price is known
Two months ago, Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski in an interview with the magazine Rzeczpospolita indicated the minimum price for a good neighbourship: Lithuania has to resolve the issue concerning the spelling of Polish names; in the territories dominated by Polish residents bilingual place-names have to be hanged, and the matters regarding the restitution of Polish property in the Vilnius region have to be settled.
It’s hard to imagine a politician in Poland who would renounce these demands publicly and then expect to remain in politics, especially when the European Court of Justice will most likely order Lithuania to legalize the spelling of names and surnames in the original language(s).
Some Lithuanians are mad about the self-made street name plates in both the Lithuanian and the Polish languages often seen in the Vilnius region. Well, you can be mad all you want, you can even go to court, but it seems that no authority in Lithuania will order to take those street name plates down.
What is more, Poland can give a good example: in the rural district of Punsk there are plates with Lithuanian and Polish street names. Obviously, this is the work of Polish government, not Lithuanians.
The Lithuanian Government promised to take care of the matters concerning the restitution of Polish property. This means that in two years Poland will have yet another opportunity to see if we keep our promises. Most probably a brand new Government will be accountable but the promises were made by Andrius Kubilius.
What’s all the fuss about?
We can be sure that it won’t take two decades before Lithuanian documents contain Polish names in their native language and certain areas have bilingual place-names. And yet there are Lithuanians who keep on defending the clearly desperate positions. Perhaps all the ruckus is needed to disguise a shameful defeat?
Recently, our media has published Antonis Pacukas Radczenka’s article “To Win Without Being Victorious” from Lublin’s periodical “Kultura Enter”. The author says: “Currently, Vilnius and its immediate surroundings have more Polish schools than before the restoration of independence. During the Soviet period, there were very few Poles with higher education, only the Romany had less. Today, the situation is much better: Poles can be found in the private and the governmental sectors, we have Polish scientists, company leaders, artists, and journalists.”
Lithuania is trying to ensure that the young Polish generation learns the Lithuanian language really well. It’s very unlikely that there will be no Polish officials in Lithuania 20 years later. Quite the opposite – they will be more educated and more concentrated politically, and they will be presenting their demands in fluent Lithuanian.
Perhaps Polish politicians will have a broader influence throughout Lithuania. After all, Russian accent didn’t prevent Viktoras Uspaskich from getting into politics and obtaining power. And if some Lithuanians are dissatisfied with such forecasts, they may as well start a campaign for the withdrawal from the EU.