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One-in-two Lithuanians don’t want a Pole living next door

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 05.01.2012 16:40
A new survey finds that half of Lithuanians would not like to have a Polish neighbor, in a new indicator that relations between the two geographical neighbours have soured.


According to the opinion poll by GfK Custom Research Baltic, 51 percent of Lithuanians expressed distaste at the idea of having a Polish neighbour, with 27 percent saying “not under any circumstances,” and a further 24 percent declaring that they “would rather not.”

When an identical survey was conducted in 2008, only 9.5 percent declared themselves against the notion of living next door to a Pole.

According to the survey, the most unwanted neighbour in Lithuania is a Roma gypsy, with 87 percent declaring themselves against.

Some 45 percent said they did not want a Jewish neighbour, and 20 percent were against the idea of having a Russian next door.

Estonians were relatively uncontroversial at 14 percent, while Latvians garnered only 11 percent against them.

Noisy neighbours

Tomas Janeliunas, who led the research, told Lithuanian current affairs weekly IQ that the results suggest that the public has been influenced by political squabbles between the two nations.

“These trends should worry Lithuanian politicians who still try to argue that the tension between Lithuania and Poland is a specific matter for politicians and that it does not have an impact on society,” he said.

In late November, a series of bilateral talks collapsed concerning reforms to the Lithuanian educational system that affect Polish minority schools.

As of 1 September 2011, a law has been enforced by Vilnius to the effect that History and Geography lessons must be taught in Lithuanian, regardless of whether the school is for ethnic minorities.

From 2013, schoolchildren in Lithuania must take their final pre-university exams in Lithuanian. No compromise was found in the talks.

Other objections of ethnic Poles include alleged bias in the reclaiming of property lost in the Soviet era, as well as a prohibition on spelling their names in their mother tongue on official documents.

In July, Polish Solidarity legend Lech Walesa declined one of Lithuania's top honours on account of the problems.

The survey was carried out in November, with 1714 respondents. (nh/mk/pg)

Source: PAP

tags: Lithuania
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