A number of Lithuania’s political figureheads believe recently elected Polish President Andrzej Duda’s decision to make Estonia, and not Lithuania, his first destination as president reflects the current state of bilateral relations between Lithuania and Poland.
On August 17, it was announced Duda’s first trip abroad as president will be to Estonia on August 23.
According to Professor Sarunas Liekis from the Vytautas Magnus University, “the Polish President has given his attention to the Baltic states in the context of the existing challenges.
“However, it shows Lithuania is not the first partner among the Baltic States.”
Liekis added the thaw in bilateral relations between the two countries is the result of the Lithuanian government’s unwillingness to allow the original Polish spelling of Polish names on official documents.
The Chairman of the Seimas’ Committee on European Affairs, Gediminas Kirkilas, echoed Liekis’ opinion.
He believes the passing of a bill, which would allow the correct spelling of Polish names on official documents, would help improve Lithuanian-Polish relations.
At present, the bill is currently being debated by the Lithuanian parliament.
However, former Lithuania’s former Prime Minister, Andrius Kubilius believes Duda’s choice to head to Estonia and not Lithuania was determined by an unwillingness to escalate the problem amidst Poland’s current parliamentary elections.
“I believe the new president's choice of visits might reflect his unwillingness to escalate those recent never-ending Lithuanian-Polish problems related to ethnic minorities,” said Kubilius.
During the presidency of Duda’s predecessor, Bronislaw Komorowski, the Lithuanian government was heavily criticised for how it dealt with its Polish minorities.
However, Lithuania rejected the criticisms as unfounded.
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