Mniejszości narodowe i etniczne w strategii kulturowo-politycznej państwa polskiego: czy jest to model idealny?
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Poland is probably the only country in Eastern Europe which policy towards national and ethnic minorities has undergone over the past century such an amazing, zigzag path between the extremes of sudden fluctuations in the choice of social system models from multinational (in the broadest palette of languages, confessional-religious and regional diversity) to one-nation type (according to the rigorous maxim declared by the ideologues of the neighbouring country in categorical formula of “Ein Land – ein Volk / One country – one nation”). Already these extremes and contrasts in Polish experience deserve to be studied with attention and interest. This study is necessary in order not to repeat the tragic mistakes of the past and also to use the developed in Polish practice and the legal system humanitarian norms and tools to achieve an international agreement and ethno-cultural polyphony. The study undertaken by the author and generalization of the Polish experience in this field during the last century (from the early 20th to the early 21st century) – the experience acquired in the official state policy, legislation, international treaties and obligations as well as real relations between ethnic groups, the majority of population and minorities within the country, initiatives and history which set out the actual situation of minorities and did not always agree with the constitutional guarantees and norms of law – reveals the dynamics and a qualitative change of paradigms associated with milestones in the Polish history, like the rebirth of Poland in 1918 and its development between the Wars, World War II, the existence of PRL (Polish People’s Republic) which in turn had an internal gradation corresponding to the first post-war decade, years 1956–1968 and the last two decades of the communist regime. Finally, the Third Republic of Poland which began at the turn of 1989 and its subsequent reforms changed the whole face of the country, the life and structure of Polish society. This study consists of two parts. The first part is devoted to “pre-history” of the problem (prior history) – formation of Poland as a nation-state which embraces and connects many ethnic groups, including indigenous people, aborigines in their area and the arrivals of different times – and the changing policy and situation in Poland in the interwar, war and post-war era until the end of 1980s of the 20th century. The second part is devoted to the experience of The Third Republic of Poland in regulating and improving the international relations within the country. Its solved and unsolved problems will be printed in the second issue of the “New Eastern Politics” journal as a continuation and completion of this article. The greatest part of the material in the first part presented to the readers in the first issue of the new journal is sourced from the contemporary Polish literature, history, political and ethnological science which today is a rich multitude of statistical studies and research monographs, mainly on the specific national and ethnic minorities in Poland. Then it was completed with the data and findings from the field studies conducted by the author in 2005–2009 in the regions of compact residence of Lithuanian people in the province of Bialystok and the German people (“Mazur”) in the province of Olsztyn. From the individual episodes, examples and facts which characterize the changing situation of national and ethnic minorities in Poland at the time of historical breakthroughs, the author creates a general scene which highlights nodal contradictions, primary Focus of tension and conflict, fundamental errors of state policy (inter alia related to building PRL as a one-nation state), forms of discrimination and crimes against minorities. On the other hand, the author shows the actual achievements in the cultural development and in political self-organization of these minorities. The author draws attention to some kind of unique experiences of Poland gained in the times of The First Republic of Poland which is associated with the development of “positive discrimination of minorities” – with protection of certain privileges necessary to preserve their identity.
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