06.09.2011 Lithuanians should be proud of shared Polish heritage

In an open letter to the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, the Polish Nobility Association has exhorted Lithuanians to be proud of the two countries' shared heritage.

The letter, released yesterday, comes after the proposed strike in Polish minority schools in Lithuania, after ethnic Poles opposed new laws that insist on Lithuanian as the language of instruction in certain academic subjects.

The strike has now been postponed for two weeks, after the premiers of Poland and Lithuania appointed a special bi-national team to look into the matter.

However, the Polish Nobility Association (ZSzP) expressed that although their goal was “not to interfere in the internal affairs of Lithuania,” they believed a “ broader phenomenon” was at the root of much of the current problems.

According to ZSzP, the Lithuanian authorities have attempted an “expulsion of the remnants of the common Polish-Lithuanian past from the public and official spheres.”

The authors of the letter noted that “one can get the impression that the authorities treat the shared Polish-Lithuanian history as a kind of weight that has to be got rid of as soon as possible.”

During the inter-war years, when both Poland and Lithuania returned to the map of Europe, disputes over Vilnius, today's capital of Lithuania, were settled by force, with Poland emerging as the victor.

However, ZSzP placed its emphasis on the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania, which from 1569 until its partition by foreign states in 1795, was one of the major forces in Europe.

ZSzP noted how many of Poland's most celebrated figures, including national bard Adam Mickiewicz, were themselves from the territory of Lithuania.

They likewise noted that Lithuanian elites, some of the descendants of whom swell the ranks of today's ZSzP, once were a key force in Polish political and social life, and hence the relationship could not be described as one of “subjugation.”

The association concluded that far from inducing “a sense of exasperation at the persistence of alleged signs of Polish domination,” Lithuanians should look at the shared heritage in their country with “a sense of pride in their common achievements.” (nh/pg),%E2%80%98Lithuanians-should-be-proud-of-shared-Polish-heritage

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