Lithuania-Poland : School strike suspended, tensions remain
5 September 2011
Polska The Times
“PM puts the strike on hold,” headlines Polska The Times as Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk flew to Lithuania on Sunday in reaction to the protest of Polish minority schools against the education system reform introduced earlier this year. Some 60,000 Poles (out of 280,000) living in Lithuania have signed a petition against the reform which they find discriminatory. On Friday, the majority of Polish schools in Lithuania went on strike, a strike now suspended for two weeks on the news that Poland and Lithuania will set up a committee to seek compromise over the controversial reform.
Gazeta Wyborcza's editorial points out however, that the new law, although it does reduce the number of subjects taught in Polish and will undoubtedly cause some Polish schools to close down, does not discriminate against Poles in Lithuania, but only brings them closer to “the standards of education enjoyed by national minorities in other EU countries”. According to the Warsaw daily, the setting up of the bilateral education committee may be “the first step to resolving other crucial issues for the Polish minority”, which include compensation for the Polish property seized by the Soviet Union after WWII and the right to public signs in two languages. “Lithuania must understand that (...) fundamental minority rights in the EU are not just a Polish folly”, but “a call to comply with EU standards”, concludes Gazeta Wyborcza.