Komorowski tough on Lithuania, Belarus

RZECZPOSPOLITA has an exclusive interview with President Bronislaw Komorowski on his last week's visit to Lithuania.

Komorowski told the daily that a close Polish-Lithuanian alliance is in the interest of the two nations but this is not to say that Poland is going to turn a blind eye to the problems of ethnic Poles in Lithuania in a situation where some of the provisions of the 1994 Polish-Lithuanian treaty have remained on paper. Poles in Lithuania are not allowed to spell their names, as well as the names of villages and localities, according to Polish rules and Polish orthography. They do not enjoy equal rights as other Lithuanian citizens in the re-privatisation process, even though they hold Lithuanian citizenship. Mr Komorowski told RZECZPOSPOLITA that a draft of the educational reform currently under debate in Lithuania is putting Polish schools there in a disadvantageous position. Asked about the reactions of Lithuanian leaders to his arguments, the Polish President said they admit that the government's powerbase includes groups that are openly hostile to the Polish minority.

On relations with one of Poland's other neighbours - Belarus - GAZETA WYBORCZA praises in its editorial President Komorowski's commitment to grant wide-ranging assistance to civic society and the Polish minority in that country. Poland will be positively reviewing all applications for political asylum from persecuted dissidents and will create opportunities for Belarusian students expelled from the universities for supporting the opposition to continue their education in Poland. Poland will also continue to finance independent media which broadcasts uncensored reports to Belarus. Such policies, GAZETA WYBORCZA writes, are not going to bear fruit overnight, but it is the only way to support the changes in Belarus at a time when its present authorities are offering nothing but propaganda, lies and claims of alleged threat posed by Poland.

RZECZPOSPOLITA takes a look at the future of the country's higher education in the context of current demographic trends. By 2020, the number of Poles in the 19-24 age bracket, and therefore of potential students, is to fall by one third. With easier access to public universities, private institutions which charge tuition fees are likely to face a shortage of candidates. All universities and colleges will compete for candidates and will be trying to attract students from Ukraine and Belarus.

Back to Poland and the international scene, POLSKA THE TIMES suggests that former leftist president Aleksander Kwasniewski is groomed for a top post in the EU - as President of the European Parliament. Kwasniewski dismisses such suggestions as 'gossip' but according to some sources in Poland's leftist party, the former president, alongside former prime ministers Miller and Oleksy, could be the so-called 'locomotives' in the next elections to the European Parliament. There is a less than a handful of MEPs who can write 'former president' or 'former prime minister' in their CVs, says POLSKA THE TIMES.

The same daily looks at the domestic political scene, eight months before the parliamentary elections. According to a political scientist interviewed by POLSKA THE TIMES, it is premature to talk of 'agony' within Prime Minister Donald Tusk's Civic Platform. Falling support for the ruling party is a fact, but the opposition is proving unable to capitalize on its mistakes.


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