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The position of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the law on education adopted in the Lithuanian Parliament was expressed in a March 23rd statement. Consequently, it is difficult to refer substantially to personal attacks on the Polish position expressed in the article by R. Tracevskis “More Lithuanian-language subjects introduced in Slavic schools,” published in The Baltic Times (#745, of March 24-30, 2011).
We are surprised with the accusation of “old fashioned chauvinistic attack against small Lithuania,” supposedly expressed in the expose of the Minister of Foreign Affairs on March 16. We do not think that the words “we ask that the teaching of Polish language not be further degraded and that the long voiced demands of Poles in Lithuania be carried out” could be perceived differently than a concern to ensure equitable status for persons of Polish nationality living outside our country and – simultaneously – to demonstrate openness towards Lithuania and a strong will to return to mutual, deeper cooperation.
Polish authorities and representatives of the Polish minority in Lithuania were stressing, and still sustain, the position that by preparing and adopting the aforementioned law, Lithuanian authorities do not respect the universally recognized principle of international law, stating that rights acquired by minorities should not be aggravated.
Nonetheless, we constantly stress that Poland and Lithuania should work together in international politics. However, it will be possible only provided that signed agreements and undertaken international commitments are respected.
Moreover, in no way can we agree with the article’s statement: “(…) killings of Lithuanian peasants, who dared to speak Lithuanian in their farmsteads, conducted by the underground Polish army during WWII (…).” During World War II, in the Vilnius region – inhabited mostly by the Polish population – the legal formation of the Polish Army “Home Army Vilnius District,” led by professional officers subordinated to Polish Army Headquarters in Warsaw and the Polish government in Exile in London, operated.
These troops were part of the anti-Hitler coalition. Complex ethnic problems in this region at that time became a breeding ground for nationalist activities leading to acts of terror against civilians (Glitiskes, Panerai, Svencionys, Valkininkai). It is positive that in the year 2004 the Declaration of Reconciliation between former soldiers of the Polish Home Army and the Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force under General Plechavicius – who were fighting against each other during World War II – was signed in Vilnius. We believe that presenting these issues in the article on the adoption of a new law on education is nothing more than an attempt to incite national discord and antagonism. In our opinion, the historians of both countries are those who should deal with the subject and the issue should not be used for current political purposes.
We strongly protest against such false allegations.
Polish Embassy in Vilnius Vilnius, March 28, 2011