Lithuania and Ukraine have expressed anger after the Polish home affairs ministry proposed a new passport design that features depictions of the Ukrainian city of Lviv and Lithuanian capital Vilnius.
Poland wants to introduce a new design of its passports as part of the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of independence, which falls in 2018. New passport pages are set to feature background pictures relating to the Polish history, some of them to be decided in online voting under way until September 10.
Among the 13 propositions, the choice of the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius – the city’s premier architectural monument but also an important symbol of Polish history – has raised eyebrows in Lithuania. The Lithuanian foreign ministry summoned the deputy ambassador of Poland to demand an explanation, the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported on August 3.
The ministry said it is unacceptable that official documents of another state carry a depiction of a Lithuanian monument, the newspaper wrote. The Gate of Dawn is currently the second most popular choice in the vote.
The new design of the Polish passports is also likely to create friction with Ukraine. Among the elements that the ministry decided would certainly feature in the new passports – with no voting involved – Lviv’s Lychakiv Cemetery where Polish freedom fighters are buried.
The third and the sixth largest Polish cities before the Second World War, Lviv and Vilnius ended up in the Soviet Union as an effect of the post-war dealings between the Allies. In the name of good relationships with independent Ukraine and Lithuania after communism collapsed, Warsaw has generally avoided any hint of revisionism, until now.
Poland says the online voting is only a consultation, apparently providing itself with a leeway to back down in the case of Vilnius. However, the depiction of the Lviv location appears definite for the meantime.