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  • 2 May 2015

    In 2002, the Sejm, on the Senate’s initiative, “in recognition of centuries-old achievements and the contribution of the Polish diaspora and Poles abroad to regaining by Poland of independence, loyalty and attachment to Polishness, and for helping the country in its most difficult moments” decided to declare 2 May the Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad Day.

    During this year’s celebrations, on the initiative of Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna, for the first time a group of over 40 representatives of the Polish diaspora, members of the biggest Polish diaspora organisations, stayed in Poland. The two-day programme of their visit included meetings with Poland’s top diplomat, Speaker of the Senate of the Republic of Poland Bogdan Borusewicz,  members of the Senate Committee for Emigration and Contacts with Poles Abroad, the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, the Sejm’s Committee for Contacts with Poles Abroad, the Sejm’s Foreign Relations Committee, members of the Interministerial Group for the Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad and the Chairman of the Polish Bishops’ Committee for the Polish Diaspora Wiesław Lechowicz. Guests also talked with heads of non-governmental organisations most renowned for their cooperation with the Polish diaspora: the Polish Community Association, the Help for Poles in the East Foundation, the Semper Polonia Foundation, the Freedom and Democracy Foundation and the Education for Democracy Foundation.


    “During the first days of May, our special thoughts go to all those people who do not live in Poland, yet think of themselves as Poles,” Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said during a meeting with invited Polish diaspora activists on 29 April.


    On 2 May Undersecretaries of State Konrad Pawlik and Henryka Mościcka-Dendys met with a delegation of deputies to the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania and to the European Parliament as well as with representatives of Lithuanian local governments from the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (AWPL) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


    The delegation is in Poland at the invitation of Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna on the occasion of the Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad Day as well as at the invitation of the “Polish Community” Association, on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. The delegation is headed by a Member of the European Parliament and Chairman of the Action of Poles in Lithuania Waldemar Tomaszewski. Members of the delegation included Deputy Jarosław Narkiewicz, Deputy Speaker of the Lithuanian Sejm, Deputy Rita Tamaszuniene, Chairperson of the Seimas’ AWPL Group, Deputy Michał Mackiewicz, President of the Association of Poles in Lithuania, Deputy Józef Kwiatkowski, President of the Association of Polish School Teachers in Lithuania, Maria Rekść, Mayor of the Vilnius District, and Zdzisław Palewicz, Mayor of the Soleczniki District.


    The discussion at the MFA meeting focused on the situation of the Polish minority in Lithuania and included Polish education. Both sides expressed their concern over the deteriorating situation of Polish education in Lithuania. Special attention was given to the process of accreditation of schools carried out by the Lithuanian authorities the result of which is awaited by prestigious education centres, such as, the Władysław Syrokomla High School and the Joachim Lelewel High School in Vilnius and high schools in Dziewieniszki and Biała Waca, which are very important for the Polish community in the Soleczniki District, as well as by the high school in Połukień (Trakai District).


    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs attaches special importance to supporting the Polish diaspora and Poles abroad in their activities. Since 2012, the MFA has been organising annual grant competitions to subsidise the best Polish diaspora projects. The call for proposals “Cooperation with the Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad in 2015” resulted in selecting144 winning projects that will receive a total of PLN 31.7 million in grants. Concurrently, 11 two-year projects selected through the 2014 grant competitionthat support education, the media and infrastructure in Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, Great Britain and Ireland, among others, received funding amounting to PLN 21.3 million. In addition, Polish diplomatic and consular missions support Polish diaspora projects with funds in excess of PLN 20 million each year. In 2014, Polish missions abroad implemented 2300 projects. The MFA also cooperates with Polish Television in the creation of a TV programme, TV Polonia, addressed to Polish viewers abroad.


    The MFA supports the Polish diaspora and Poles abroad with funds totalling approximately PLN 90 million, which is one half of all state budget funds allocated to cooperation with the Polish diaspora.


    The MFA coordinates the state’s policy on the Polish diaspora and Poles abroad initiating work of the Interministerial Group for the Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroadby drafting the Government Programme for Cooperation with the Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad in 2015-2020. The draft is based on wide-ranging government and social consultations.


    MFA Press Office

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