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The Seimas of Lithuania on Thursday backed a proposal to remove the provision on bilingual street signs from the draft Law on National Minorities which is currently being debated by the lawmakers.
Bilingual signs in Šalčininkai
Bilingual signs in Šalčininkai
© DELFI

The proposal was supported by 82 Seimas members, seven voted against and 11 abstained.

As the Seimas ends its spring session on Thursday, the vote on the bill will take place next autumn.

On Thursday, MPs backed the proposal of Valentinas Stundys of the opposition Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats and several other lawmakers to include into the bill a provision allowing only the use of names of various types of organizations, registered by national minority communities and organizations, in a national minority language next to Lithuanian-language names.

Moreover, lawmakers also backed another provision drawn up by the same group of MPs, stating that in areas populated by national minorities, people who have poor knowledge of the state Lithuanian language can use their spoken mother tongue at public institutions and organizations, but all paperwork must be done in the state Lithuanian language.

"No matter what others think, the language will survive and people will use it as much as they want to. And nobody will ban it, unless they will deport people to Siberia but, probably, now the times are different," Jaroslav Neverovič of the ruling Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania said after the vote.

Another bill, drafted by Neverovič and granted initial backing by the Seimas in 2010, suggests reinstating the version of the law that was in effect in the early 1990s. Under the bill, state institutions and organizations in areas with large populations of ethnic minorities would allow the use of the minority language along with the state Lithuanian language, with signs in the language of the dominant minority allowed next to those in Lithuanian.

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