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2019.10.15 09:00

Lithuania to set up commission for national minority issues

BNS2019.10.15 09:00

Officials from the Lithuanian government's office and ministries decided on Monday to set up a commission or a council to deal with problems faced by national minorities. 

According to Deividas Matulionis, the government's vice-chancellor, it is yet to be decided what the legal status of the proposed body will have.

"We decided that we will have such a commission or council. It would be a working body to draft national minority policy proposals and table them to the government," he told BNS.

The commission, together with national minority communities, would assume a coordinating role in tackling economic problems in southeastern Lithuania, especially in light of the European Commission's decision to divide the country into the region of Vilnius and a less economically developed region of central and western Lithuania.

As a result of this division, Vilnius region municipalities will likely receive less EU funding.

"The Finance Ministry, which will also be involved in the process, should present its vision how to ensure that these districts around Vilnius are not affected in terms of economic development," the vice-chancellor said.

The commission should also look the education of ethnic Poles, Russians, Belarusians, Jews and other minorities living in Lithuania.

"The discussion also includes the status of national minorities [...] which is not defined in the existing legislation," Matulionis said.

A final decision on the establishment of the commission will be made by the Cabinet.

The new body will likely be chaired by Matulionis, and include representatives of national minority communities, ministries and the Department of National Minorities under the government.

Currently, the Council of National Communities set up in 2015 deals with minority issues, but the body does not include government's representatives.