Walesa declines Lithuanian honour
PR dla Zagranicy
Former president Lech Walesa has declined one of Lithuania's most distinguished honours, citing the Baltic country's treatment of its Polish minority as his motive.
photo - PR
The Solidarity titan explained his action in a letter to Lithuania's ambassador in Poland, Loreta Zakareviciene, noting that he would be happy to accept the award if Vilnius modifies its policies towards ethnic Poles.
“I am deeply concerned about the current situation regarding respect for the rights of my compatriots in Lithuania, in terms of their language, and the cultivation of traditions and respect for Polish culture,” Walesa wrote.
Polish minority schools were on the verge of striking last week after new laws called for Lithuanian as the language of instruction in certain academic subjects.
The strike was postponed on Monday after the premiers of both countries appointed a bi-national team to look into the matter.
Other concerns of ethnic Poles include alleged bias in reclaiming property lost in the Soviet era, as well as a prohibition on spelling their names in their mother tongue on official documents.
“Please respect the right to one's christian and surnames,” Walesa wrote.
“I very much hope that the authorities of the Republic of Lithuania pave the way so that a situation arises whereby I can collect the award that has been conferred upon me, but only under conditions of respect for right,” he underlined.
Walesa was due to receive the Grand Cross of the Order of Vytautas the Great, the second highest honour that the country can bestow. (nh/pg)