Slovakia and Hungary minding their language

Published on 11 September 2009 at 12:31

The 10 September meeting between Slovak prime minister Robert Fico and his Hungarian counterpart, Gordon Bajnai, resulted in the drafting of a joint declaration against extremism. On the issue of Slovakia’s language law, which Budapest considers an infringement of Hungarian minority rights in Slovakia, Fico and Bajnai agreed to follow the recommendations made in the report by OECD High Representative on National Minorities Knut Vollebaek, and to set up a joint police commission to combat extremism on both sides of the border.

The two heads of State were the “wrong people in the wrong place”, opines the Slovak daily Pravda, and all they did there was “repackage the problem” without getting at its “core”, which lies in Slovakia: “The lies about the language law are not coming from Hungary, but from the SMK” – i.e. the “Hungarian Coalition Party” that represents the Hungarian-speaking minority in Slovakia. Nonetheless, the Bratislava-based daily urges its government to take a “generous stance” on the Hungarian minority.

The Hungarian daily Népszabadság, for its part, is gratified to find that “Hungary’s diplomatic efforts to bump the matter into the international arena have borne fruit”, though it airs doubts about Bratislava’s political will to comply with European demands.

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