Poland’s war against Lithuania over education law

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VILNIUS - On March 30, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite signed a new law on education which includes teaching history and geography, as well as the subject called civic education (about the rights and duties of citizens in a democratic country), in the Lithuanian language in the Lithuanian state-financed Slavic minority schools. It provoked a hysterical reaction from Poland, which was supported by a mild echo from the Russian Foreign Ministry as well.

On March 30, Grybauskaite talked about changes in the education of ethnic minorities while visiting the town of Panevezys. She said that better knowledge of the Lithuanian language would help ethnic minorities to integrate into the labor market and start a better life. “My main motive was to help Lithuania’s ethnic minorities to feel like equal citizens, to be respected and to know our dear language well,” Grybauskaite said, adding that she can speak almost all the languages of Lithuania’s ethnic minorities, and Lithuania is the best in the EU, in terms of ensuring the educational and cultural needs of ethnic minorities.
On March 23, the Polish Foreign Ministry protested against the recent introduction of Lithuanian-language history and geography lessons in Lithuania’s Slavic schools (four percent of all Lithuania’s pupils attend Russian schools and 3.2 percent Polish schools in Lithuania).

On March 24, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry answered Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, saying that Lithuania just mirrors the Polish steps of 2007 for Lithuanian schools in Poland, where the situation of ethnic minority schools is rather tragic in comparison with Lithuania. “Unfortunately, the situation of Lithuanian education in Poland is worsening each year – half of Lithuanian schools were closed there during the last 10 years,” reads the statement of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry of March 24 about the situation in ethnic Lithuanian lands which Poland gained during its troops’ march on Vilnius in 1920....

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