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European Court of Justice delivers verdict in Sólyom vs Slovakia
16 Oct 2012 Flash News
The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg on Tuesday, October 16, sided with Slovakia in the lawsuit which emerged due to the attempted visit of former Hungarian President László Sólyom to the country. According to the verdict, Slovakia did not violate the law of the European Union when it refused entry to the then-president on its territory on August 21, 2009. After three years of court wrangling between Hungary and Slovakia, the case ended to the benefit of the Slovak side. The ECJ refused Hungary’s suit in full.
On Tuesday, October 16, the SITA newswire quoted the Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs as welcoming the verdict and appreciating that the Hungarian lawsuit was dismissed to the fullest extent. “Thus, the verdict unambiguously divided the free movement of persons within the EU – fully and consequently respected by Slovakia – from visits by heads of states which have a specific status,” reads the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s stance as published on its website. FAM also expressed hope that the verdict means a final end of the above-mentioned dispute.
Sólyom was invited to a ceremony to unveil a statue of Hungarian King Stephen I in Komárno on August 21. Corresponding high Slovak state officials were not invited. A day before the ceremony, the then (and also current) Prime Minister Robert Fico, President Ivan Gašparovič and Speaker of the Parliament Pavol Paška issued a joint written statement saying that Sólyom was not a welcome guest in Slovakia on August 21 for several reasons – ongoing tensions between the two countries because of the new, controversial State Language Act, and the sensitivity of the date: August 21 is the anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by most Warsaw Pact countries in 1968, including troops from Hungary.
Sólyom, however, did not respond, and cancelled his visit to Slovakia, so the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry then conveyed an official message to Sólyom asking him to disregard the invitation to Komárno and to not enter Slovakia. Sólyom did not cross the border and instead convened a press conference on the Hungarian side of the bridge which joins the Slovak town of Komárno with the Hungarian town of Komárom.
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