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Strong voice of MEPs in defence of minority schools in Lithuania

Today another meeting of the Intergroup for Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages took place in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. On the request of the Chairmen of the Intergroup, Members of the European Parliament Jordi Sebastià (Spain), Nils Torvalds (Finland) and Kinga Gál (Hungary), the meeting was devoted to minority’s education in Lithuania.

Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and the Intergroup, Chairman of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania Valdemar Tomaševski, presented the audience all the current problems regarding attempts to reduce and eradicate Polish schools of the national minorities in Lithuania.

Members of the European Parliament unequivocally supported the demands raised by national minorities in Lithuania and expressed their firm opposition against attempts of liquidation of schools with Polish teaching language in the Vilnius Region.

In connection with the scandalous situation which occurred as a result of the Lithuanian authorities’ actions, 60 MEPs from 13 Member States of the European Union representing all the political groups of the European Parliament, issued a strong protest to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania. The MEPS wrote:

‘Dear Prime Minister, as the Members of the European Parliament guarding the civic rights and freedoms, we observe the situation in Lithuania with great concern, we express our firm opposition against restricting the rights of national minorities, especially in the field of education, which should be under the special protection of state institutions. The attempt to liquidate over a dozen of secondary schools with minority teaching language is unacceptable from the European point of view and is incompatible with the spirit of community law. The Treaty of Lisbon puts a clear emphasis on the promotion of multilingualism, multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity. In addition, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages give exceptional support to the matter of education of national and ethnic minorities. Lithuania, as a member of the European Union, should apply European standards in the field of protection of rights of national minorities in the first place and should stop actions which appear to constitute discrimination. We urge the Government of the Republic of Lithuania to enhance the legal protection of all national minorities and cease their efforts to eradicate educational establishments with minority teaching language. (…)

Dear Prime Minister, care for the respect of the rights of national minorities is a measure of the level of democracy in today’s Europe. Therefore we urge the Government of the Republic of Lithuania to lead greater protection of minority rights and to end the process of liquidation of schools against the will and vital interests of national minorities in Lithuania.’

The position of the MEPS has been handed over to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania.