Polish parlt speaker on his 1st visit to Lithuania: we need each other

  • 2024-02-05
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Szymon Holownia, the new speaker of Poland's lower house of parliament, emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in the face of a threatening geopolitical situation after meeting with his Lithuanian counterpart in Vilnius on Monday.

"This is my first foreign visit since taking office as marshal of the Sejm three months ago. This shows how important Lithuania is to us," Holownia told reporters in the Lithuanian capital. "It is very important for us to maintain our partnership, especially in this difficult situation."

"I am pleased that the speakers of the Lithuanian and Polish parliaments meet regularly. I want to assure you that this will continue, because we need each other in order to agree on common positions," he said.

Holownia said he invited Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, speaker of the Seimas, to visit Warsaw. 

"We agreed to organize a Lublin Triangle meeting in a parliamentary format in Poland as soon as possible so that (...) we could discuss what is most important to us at the moment," he said.

The Lublin Triangle is a platform for trilateral cooperation between Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine.

Cmilyte-Nielsen thanked Poland for its contribution to the region's security and defense and Warsaw's support for Ukraine, noting "Poland's leadership" in allocating 4 percent of its GDP to defense.

"This is a very important signal to our allies that European countries, the countries of the region – Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – are taking care of their security and defense and are setting an example for others," she said.

The speaker of the Seimas also underlined the need for coordinated action on sanctions against Russia and Belarus.

Holownia is visiting Vilnius for the first time as marshal of the Sejm, but he and Cmilyte-Nielsen had already met in Brussels.

Addressing Cmilyte-Nielsen in the Seimas on Monday, the Polish speaker said that they represent a new generation of politicians both in Europe and in their countries, tasked with solving deep-rooted problems.

"We respect the older generation of politicians and their legacy, but we also know that our responsibility is to quickly resolve issues yet unsolved by the generations of our grandparents and parents so that we can move as quickly as possible toward ensuring security for our children and grandchildren. This is a fundamental issue," he said. 

Holownia reminded Lithuanian MPs of issues raised by ethnic Poles in Lithuania. 

Lithuania had no law on national minorities since 2010, when the last version of the law expired. 

"The speaker of the Seimas assured me that the current Lithuanian government has intentions to address the problems raised by the Polish national minority. We area speaking about education and the spelling of surnames. That process will continue and I am very glad about that," he said.

Cmilyte-Nielsen told journalists later that they discussed a new Law on National Minorities drafted by the government, adding that Holownia did not mention the legalization of non-Lithuanian diacritical marks in Lithuanian citizens' passports and other official documents.

"I understand that politics has its requirements and that not everything can be implemented at once, but the most important thing is the intention and that we are moving step by step in a good direction, because we have to go together," the Polish parliamentary speaker said.

MP Emanuelis Zingeris, who took part in the meeting between the Lithuanian and Polish delegations, told journalists that Warsaw no longer has any claims to Vilnius regarding the spelling of surnames.

Poland appreciates the adoption by the Lithuanian parliament of the Law on the Spelling of Names and Surnames of Persons in Documents, which allows the use of "w", "q" and "x" in Lithuanian citizens' personal documents, and the designation of May 3 as a commemorative day, according to Zingeris.

Cmilyte-Nielsen said that the issue of Lithuania's failure to appoint its ambassador to Warsaw was not raised during the meeting.

Holownia, a former TV presenter who founded his Polska 2050 centrist party, was elected marshal of the Sejm last November.