Hungary welcomes amendment of Slovak language law

Bratislava, February 2 (MTI) – Hungary welcomes the recent amendment to the Slovak state language law and hopes that further amendments will follow in order to put an end to the “atmosphere of fear” by ethnic minorities in connection with language use, the deputy state secretary in charge of nation policy said on Wednesday.

Zsuzsanna Repas attended a meeting of the Hungarian-Slovak minority mixed committee in Bratislava and commented on the parliamentary approval of an amendment to Slovakia’s contested language law.

    Repas, the Hungarian co-chair of the committee, added that despite the amendment, Budapest still maintains reservations.

    ”It still includes paragraphs that are not in line with the recommendations of the Venice Committee and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities,” Repas said.

    The situation is currently worse than it was in 2006 because the law still allows fines for language use, she added.

    ”We want these removed from the law in order to put an end to the “atmosphere of fear” in connection with minority language use in Slovakia,” Repas said.

    Slovakia’s state language law, enacted by the former Fico-government, has been amended so that fines for using Hungarian language are reduced. From now on, fines can be imposed only on state bodies, not on individuals. Other measures ease the use of Hungarian in fields of education, healthcare, culture, and at local levels.

    Ambassador Miroslav Mojzita, the Slovak co-chair of the committee, said the issue of dual citizenship had been shortly discussed at the meeting, including the prime minister’s proposal of a special agreement between Slovakia and Hungary about dual citizenship.

    ”First of all, it must be decided which mixed committee should deal with the subject,” Mojzita said.

    This was the first meeting of the mixed committee since new governments had entered office in both countries last year. Both parties said “an open and constructive atmosphere” characterised the meeting.