Polish Sejm marshal asks Lithuanian MPs to back bill on original name-spelling
Marek Kuchcinski, the Marshal of the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, on Tuesday called on Lithuanian lawmakers to support a bill that would allow using non-Lithuanian letters in Lithuanian citizens' identification documents.
"I, as the speaker of the Polish Sejm, would like to ask you, members of the Seimas, that in making your decision on citizens of the Republic of Lithuania of Polish origin, you should take into consideration their demands and your common interests, including geopolitical ones," Kuchcinski said in his speech to the Lithuanian parliament.
"In the name of the past and the future, I am appealing to you, asking for the bravery that our grandparents had, asking for good will," he said.
Speaking about the importance of cooperation between the two neighboring nations and their common interests, Kuchcinski proposed to revive the Poland-Lithuania interparliamentary assembly, whose work has been frozen in recent years amid worsened relations between the countries.
"The parliaments of Poland and Lithuania should play a significant role in cooperation between our countries, drawing on the great past and looking at the future of the whole of Europe. We have common goals that we cannot abandon. I am saying that we need to re-establish, strengthen our parliamentary cooperation, returning to our meetings in the framework of the parliamentary assembly," the Sejm marshal said.
Kuchcinski ended his speech by citing the words of the national anthem of Lithuania: "May the sun of this land scatter all the gloom and dark, with truth and light, guiding our steps forever".
Speaking at a news conference after meeting with Lithuania's Parliamentary Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis, the Polish Sejm marshal restated his proposal to revive the Lithuania-Poland Parliamentary Assembly.
"I suggested to the mister speaker that we should go back to the frequent and even very frequent meetings of our joint parliamentary assembly. The more frequent meetings we hold, the better cooperation we will enjoy. We will remember the times when Lech Kaczynski was our president and made 16 official visits to Lithuania during his presidential service, and I am sad to admit I've only come here for the first time," Kuchcinski told Vilnius journalists.
Speaking in comment of the current status of the bilateral relations, he noted that "history should teach us lessons and we should keep the good examples for the future."
"We should meet as often as possible and search for solutions, settle the trickiest issues. I believe these issues should include the issues of my fellow countrymen in Lithuania and issues of Lithuanians in Poland. I believe meetings and search for compromises is a better solution instead of building walls," said the Polish official.
Asked whether he thought the Polish national minority had its rights violated in Lithuania, the marshal replied that "these issues are not easy to settle."
"We want to speak and together come up with a solution, find potential for overall development for the Polish minority in Lithuania and the Lithuanian minority in Poland, which should be subject to more than just European Union standards. I believe our fellow countrymen in both Poland and Lithuania should be treated as a platform that unites both nations. They would be a rock for remembering our joint history of 500 years, which should help us better see what the future will bring," said the leader of the Polish Sejm.
"In my opinion, the Polish parliament should act a bit stronger in this field," Kuchcinski added.
Poles living in Lithuania and Warsaw politicians want the Lithuanian parliament to allow the Polish national minority to use the original form of spelling of their names in ID documents. Lithuania's parliament is currently discussing a few bills on the use of w, q and x characters, which do not exist in the Lithuanian alphabet.