THE GRAND DUCHY OF LITHUANIA IS COMMON HERITAGE OF MODERN BELARUSIANS AND LITHUANIANS. STATEMENT BY THE BNR RADA
The Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic is concerned about public attempts to provoke a split between Belarusians and Lithuanians over the interpretation of the history and heritage of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
The BNR Rada emphasizes that any public conflict between Belarusians and Lithuanians is primarily beneficial to our common enemy – the dictatorial Putin’s Russia, as well as its satellite, the regime of A. Lukashenka in Belarus, which is engaged in promoting the Russian-Soviet colonial ideological and pseudo-historical narrative, hostile to the heritage of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and is purposefully engaged in the Russification of Belarus, including its Polish and Lithuanian minorities.
Our common enemies, some of whom the ancestors of the present-day Lithuanians and Belarusians opposed for centuries, are interested in such conflicts going beyond the boundaries of constructive academic, expert and public discussion and leading to mutual insults, harming the centuries-old good-neighborly relations between the peoples of present-day Belarus and the Republic of Lithuania. The Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic reminds of Moscow’s past attempts to divide Belarusians and Lithuanians in the early 1990s in order to hinder the process of restoring the independence of the Republic of Lithuania. Meanwhile, the restoration of Lithuanian independence was welcomed and supported by the Belarusian democratic forces – precisely those whose identity was based on the memory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In January 1991, hundreds of Belarusians came to Vilnius and stood by the Lithuanians, defending the parliament of the Republic of Lithuania and the Lithuanians’ right to independence.
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was formed, built and existed as a result of close interaction of Baltic, East Slavic and West Slavic cultures and peoples. In the battles of Grünwald, Orša, Syni Vody, banners from Minsk and Vilnia (Vilnius), Navahradak and Troki (Trakai), Viciebsk and Koŭna (Kaunas) and other cities fought shoulder to shoulder against external enemies on equal terms.
Attempts to dispute the right of any of our nations to view themselves as heirs to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and to consider historical Lithuania as their state are historically groundless, inherently destructive and only play into the hands of the aggressive regimes of Lukashenka and Putin.
The BNR Rada states that the heritage of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania has become the foundation for the national identity of both modern Belarusians and modern Lithuanians. For both our peoples, historical Lithuania is the golden age of statehood. In particular, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as a stage of Belarusian state building is indirectly referred to by both the Constitutional Charters of the Belarusian Democratic Republic of 1918 and the 1994 Constitution of the Republic of Belarus.
The BNR Rada notes that our nations have a positive track record of peaceful and good-neighborly treatment of common history. An example of this is the joint reburial of the rebels of 1863-1864, which was excellently conducted by the authorities of the Republic of Lithuania in 2019 and was attended by representatives of the Republic of Lithuania, Poland and Belarus – all countries that honor the heroic feat of our common countrymen who died for our and your freedom. The BNR Rada welcomes the activity of Belarusian political, cultural and educational institutions in the Republic of Lithuania, which would not be possible without the support of the authorities of the Republic of Lithuania. Belarusians will always be grateful for this support, and it strengthens the long-term Belarusian-Lithuanian good neighborliness like nothing else.
In this regard, the BNR Rada warns politicians and public opinion leaders of both Belarus and the Republic of Lithuania against aggressive and destructive mutual rhetoric when discussing the interpretation of the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, so that this topic, which is equally sensitive for Belarusians and Lithuanians, does not become an instrument of manipulation and provocation by our common enemies.
The Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic calls on historians of Belarus and the Republic of Lithuania to formulate a balanced view of the complex and multifaceted history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which would be based on facts, be free from nationalistic contexts and provide for common interpretations that would respect the feelings of both Belarusians and Lithuanians, and respect the role which the memory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania played in the formation of modern Belarusian and Lithuanian nations.
The BNR Rada emphasizes that the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is an object of common heritage and common value for Belarusians and Lithuanians, which should unite our peoples and not divide them.
(translated from Belarusian)