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Poland’s top lawmaker addresses Lithuanian parliament, urges more support for Ukraine

10.03.2023 16:00
Poland's lower-house Speaker Elżbieta Witek has addressed Lithuanian MPs on the eve of their country's Independence Day, saying that Poland and Lithuania shared a similar history and remained united in supporting their mutual neighbour Ukraine against Russia's invasion.
Polands lower-house Speaker Elżbieta Witek addresses Lithuanias parliament in Vilnius on Friday, March 10, 2023.
Poland's lower-house Speaker Elżbieta Witek addresses Lithuania's parliament in Vilnius on Friday, March 10, 2023. PAP/Mateusz Marek

Witek called for further assistance to Kyiv in her speech to Lithuania’s unicameral parliament, the Seimas, in the capital Vilnius on Friday, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

'Poles stood shoulder to shoulder with Lithuanians'

Poland’s top lawmaker referred to events in January 1991 when Soviet forces marched into Vilnius to prevent the creation of an independent Lithuanian state. 

Soviet troops at the time assaulted the parliament building in Vilnius and the city’s TV tower, among other targets, killing more than a dozen civilians supporting Lithuania’s independence, Polish state news agency PAP reported. 

Witek said: “Poles stood shoulder to shoulder with Lithuanians, both in the defence of the Seimas and in defence of the TV tower, a significant symbol of the struggle for Lithuania’s independence. It was a massive protest against the political situation in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.”

She added: “This year, in January, we together marked 160 years since the outbreak of the 1863 January Uprising" against Russia, a "heroic revolt" that she said helped the Poles and Lithuanians maintain their national identity.

Poland, Lithuania building 'steadfast redoubt' on NATO’s eastern flank

“Based on reflections about the insurgent struggle, today we are building together a steadfast redoubt on the eastern flank of NATO and the eastern border of the European Union,” Witek said.

She described Lithuania as “one of Poland’s most important partners,” adding that the two countries "are bound by intensive bilateral and regional cooperation, their geographical location and shared challenges.”   

Warsaw, Vilnius 'speaking in one voice' on support for Kyiv

The Polish parliamentary Speaker also said that "Poland’s and Lithuania’s shared past is a valuable lesson and inspiration to cooperation in the present.”

She added: “The dramatic situation caused by the war in Ukraine mobilises us to get involved, to the fullest extent and on the biggest possible scale, in helping this country, which has been brutally attacked by Russia.”

Witek told Lithuanian lawmakers that “Poland’s and Lithuania’s shared history has meant that both countries are speaking in one voice on the need for continued support to war-torn Ukraine.”

She argued that further help "should cover all aspects, from military aid and political support to financial, humanitarian and diplomatic assistance.”

She noted that "both Poland and Lithuania believe that Russian war crimes must be tried and their perpetrators held accountable.”

'Drawing on the past, but looking to the future'

Referring to joint projects between Poland and Lithuania as part of NATO, as well as bilateral cooperation on energy security and infrastructure, Witek said the history of the two nations could serve as a model for Europe "on how to become united, how to support each other and how to work together, drawing on the past, but looking to the future.”      

Later on Friday, Witek was due to meet with her Lithuanian counterpart  Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė and President Gitanas Nausėda, as well as with Lithuania’s Polish community, the PAP news agency reported.

She also laid flowers at Vilnius’ Rasos cemetery, where the heart of Polish independence hero Marshal Józef Piłsudski is buried, the PAP news agency reported. 

On Saturday, Witek is expected to attend ceremonies to mark Lithuania’s Independence Day.

Friday is day 380 of Russia’s war on Ukraine. 


Source: IAR, PAP, tvpparlament.pl