Author: Simona Gribulyte, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
This paper seeks to investigate the recent language-related challenges posed by the Polish ethnic minority in Lithuania. While exploring the unique historical circumstances between the neighboring countries, a particular attention is given to the general and specific rights and duties of citizenship and the Polish minority in Lithuania. The Poles enjoy the power of using general rights to vote, establish their religious institutions, set up businesses and cultural organisations, use Polish language in the radio or television. The minority has an exceptional right to study in Polish from secondary to tertiary level, yet is also expected to comply with and adapt to state’s legal provisions to become proficient in the Lithuanian language. Although the Lithuanian educational system for minorities is considered as one of the most liberal models in Europe, the ethnic group has responded negatively to the recent provisions by stating that the reform on education, reform on spelling of personal names and place names and land reform are threatening its national identity. The ongoing domestic disputes between Poland and Lithuania disrupt bilateral negotiations on energy security and thus delay further states’ integration into European markets. This study of citizenship and linguistic rights in Lithuania serves to our understanding of politics and language and the function of the latter in the development and preservation of national identity.
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