Lithuanian, Polish PMs meet in Punsk

  • 2004-05-20
  • By The Baltic Times
VILNIUS – Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas and his Polish counterpart, Marek Belka, opened a Lithuanian cultural house in the Polish border town of Punsk on Saturday.

Following the event, Brazauskas and Belka discussed a number of issues of mutual national interest, including the rights of ethnic minorities in each other's countries.
Residents of Punsk and other ethnically Lithuanian towns near Poland's northeastern border have long complained of insufficient funding for Lithuanian-language schools. Meanwhile, Lithuania's ethnic Poles, who make up roughly 7 percent of the country's population, have lobbied for a great political voice in linguistic issues.
The prime ministers also discussed infrastructure issues related to their common border, such as the construction of the Via Baltica highway and Rail Baltica high-speed railway, for which the countries hope to gain EU structural funds.
A further topic of discussion was the connection of the Lithuanian power grid to Poland's, which would free Lithuania from the old Soviet grid that binds it to neighboring Belarus and Russia.
The residents of Punsk—mostly ethnic Lithuanians who maintain strong cultural and linguistic ties to Lithuania proper—spent almost two decades organizing the construction of the cultural center.