Lithuania reminds Pilsudski’s words to Polish minister who denied Vilnius’ occupation
As the BNS informed Lithuania sent a message to Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski who recently denied Poland’s occupation of the Vilnius region. The statement quoted the then political figures, Marshall Jozef Pilsudski and Mykolas Riomeris, who did not question that Vilnius was a part of Lithuania.
According to information available to BNS, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas sent the reply to Sikorski’s statement via the embassy in Warsaw.
It came following a live interview of Sikorski on the Polish television a few days ago where he said that Poland had not occupied the Lithuanian capital in the interwar period.
“Lithuania believes that we occupied Vilnius in the interwar period, but we have a different take on this,” Sikorski said.
Lithuania’s stance is that Poland unlawfully occupied Vilnius in the interwar period, thus ceasing diplomatic relations between the two countries between World War I and World War II.
BNS noted that the letter sent to the Polish minister cites a speech made by Pilsudski, the head of the Polish state, in Vilnius on April 20 1922. Pilsudski then said that Vilnius had entered a new life, “which is shaping in a different manner than that of its historic past.” Pilsudski added that Vilnius had been raised to “the rank of capitals” “by enormous efforts of the Lithuanian nation.”
Sikorski will also receive a copy of a strong-worded statement made by Lithuania’s interwar lawyer Mykolas Riomeris whom Pilsudski has unsuccessfully asked to head the pro-Polish Lithuanian government. Riomeris then wrote: “Vilnius – a creation and capital of Lithuania – is and continues to be what has been developed through enormous will of generations and the nation: all other combinations will collapse, all speculative attempts to fabricate a different origin of Vilnius through the annexation act, the Seimas resolution, etc. will collapse as a feeble modern house built by today’s Poles for a profit in Warsaw or Vilnius.”
Lithuania’s response to the Polish minister’s words came a few days following reports in the Polish media about cancelled preparation of a two-language history textbook on Lithuania and Poland amid the economic “crisis.”
Vice-chairman of the Assembly of Lithuanian and Polish Parliaments, Artur Gorski, told the Catholic daily Nasz Dziennik that publishing of a Lithuanian-Polish history textbook may become a hardly feasible task in the current downturn.
“Lithuanians have a controversial view of our common history, starting with the times of Jogaila, who they just recently stopped calling a traitor, and Jozef Pilsudski for years was one of the key persecutors of Lithuanians, equalled to Stalin and Hitler,” said Gorski, a member of the Polish parliament’s Commission on Education, Science and Youth.
Lithuania maintains that Poland occupied Vilnius in 1920, thus violating the Suwalki treaty that handed Vilnius to Lithuania. Elections later held in the Vilnius region resulted in the election of a Seimas that decided to become part of Poland. Lithuania did not recognize validity of the unilateral moves and believes it was an unlawful incursion. Lithuania regained control of Vilnius in 1939.