LITHUANIA, MY HOMELAND…
Lithuania for our poet Adam Mickiewicz was like health. ‘How much one has got to appreciate you, will find out when he has lost you’ – he wrote in the Invocation of ‘Mr. Tadeusz’. Unfortunately, he was not the only person missing the Homeland and who was forced to leave this beautiful country. After the time of partitions and the first world war, Józef Piłsudski, born in Lithuania, joined it back to Poland. However, due to the Yalta diktat included in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, it was separated from Poland. When the country stopped existing, it created its own small country. At present Lithuania is the member of the European Union. The Union orders everyone to respect national minorities and their rights. And this is the main problem of Lithuania at the moment. Poles living there, have been striving for respecting European norms in this respect for years. For, they are not allowed to write their surnames in their original form, and they are also punished severely for maintaining a Polish name of the street on their houses, they do not have any right to repair or preserve historic graves on the Vilnus cemetery on Rossa. Not only do the Lithuanian authorities close their eyes to desecration of their graves, for example, the grave of mother of Józef Piłsudski, but they are also aiming at removing nearly everything which is Polish from Lithuania. Following this path consequently, they have been fighting with Polish education for a long time. It may stop existing soon, despite loud protests of Poles living there and the Poles’ Electoral Action representing them in Lithuania. In defence of breaching basic rights of the European Union in Lithuania, a few dozen MPs of the European Parliament gave their signatures. Many of them know the problem not only from reports. A few years ago, in Vilnus, a group of European Conservatives and Reformers were doing some investigation. Besides substantive debates and official meetings, there was time to visit the Ostra Brama, a cemetery, Vilnus monuments, talk with inhabitants. Even today I remember surprised faces of foreigners, especially British euro-deputies, who admitted during a farewell supper in Vilnus, that when leaving London, they had thought they would land in Lithuania, whereas, it turned out that, in fact, they got to Poland. And this is the essence of the problem. Here nearly every stone reminds of Poland, and the definite majority of Poles living in Lithuania do not consider themselves as the national minority, but as the native people. They are simply in their own country. Certainly, they accept geopolitical reality, but do not agree to discrimination. They hope for help from Poland more than support from the Union. The policy of the Polish government is not effective, although, as the former Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski said during one of meetings with Polish euro-deputies, Poland has got sufficient instruments, also on the level of the Union, in order to discipline the Lithuanian authorities. So, why isn’t it doing anything? Would there be any other priorities which would obscure all kinds of harm of our compatriots in Lithuania?