Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 1

Lithuania’s Education Minister and eldest cabinet member, Zigmas Zinkevicius, has been publicly criticized by Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas, who also heads the Christian-Democratic party of which Zinkevicius is a member. In a December 31 official statement Saudargas expressed regret over Zinkevicius’ proposals, aired in a press interview that week, to abolish Polish-language instruction in public schools in Polish-inhabited areas. Saudargas also disavowed Zinkevicius for questioning the ethnicity of Poles in Lithuania and impugning the loyalty to the state of those who desire to preserve their native language. The foreign minister provided assurances that the government will continue observing its international commitments regarding both the rights of national minorities and bilateral agreements with Poland on that matter. Lithuania’s ethnic Polish organizations have sharply protested against Zinkevicius’ statements. (Interfax, December 30 and 31)

Lithuania’s capital city of Vilnius and the surrounding region, home to many Poles, have been a bone of contention between the two nations for much of this century. The post-Communist Lithuanian and Polish governments have managed to surmount that problem and are cooperating in the economic and security areas. One prerequisite of that cooperation is the continuing mutual observance of the rights of the Polish minority in Lithuania and the Lithuanian minority in Poland.

Moldovan, Romanian Presidents Mending Fences.