Lithuania's national minorities waiting for law, state-level native language exam – MP

  • 2021-04-26
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – National minorities in Lithuania are waiting for a law guaranteeing their status and rights and for the possibility for students to take a state-level school-leaving native language exam, MP Rita Tamasuniene of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania–Christian Families Alliance (EAPL-CFA) said on Monday. 

Her comment came on the 27th anniversary of the Lithuanian-Polish treaty on friendly relations and good neighborly cooperation. 

"We do hope that the relevant legislation will be tabled to the parliament during this spring session, as promised by the government," Tamasuniene said.  

"We want to believe that politicians will appreciate the positive charge these legal acts bring to national minorities and all citizens of Lithuania, rather than looking for any fears or perceived threats again," she added. 

A national minority bill drafted by a task group is still "under a veil of secrecy", according to the MP.  

Lithuania has had no law on national minorities since the original wording of the legislation expired back in 2010.  

Tamasuniene also said that there are worrying signals from the government that it might postpone the implementation of an agreement on allowing students to take a state-level Polish as a native language exam. 

On September 17, 2020, the Lithuanian and Polish education ministers signed a plan for the education of the Polish national minority in Lithuania and the Lithuanian national minority in Poland.

Among other things, the plan called for introducing by 2022 a state-level secondary school-leaving exam in Polish as a native language and recognize it as equivalent to other state-level Matura exams while applying to a university in Lithuania.  

Most students in national minority schools would like to take their Matura language exam in their mother tongue, according to Tamasuniene.

Currently, school-leavers in Lithuania can only take a school-level Polish language exam.

The then presidents of Lithuania and Poland, Algirdas Brazauskas and Lech Walesa, signed the treaty on friendly relations and good neighborly cooperation on April 26, 1994. 

Among other things, the two countries committed to creating the necessary conditions for their respective national minorities "to freely express, protect and develop their national, cultural, linguistic and religious identity without any discrimination and in full equality before the law".