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Anti-Hungarian displays continue

HUNGARIAN Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány called on Slovak leader Robert Fico to distance himself from the growing number of anti-Hungarian incidents in Slovakia, but received a snub in return, with Fico saying his government didn’t need anyone to call on it to combat extremism.

"The Slovak government doesn’t need to be called on to strike against extremism," Fico said, adding that as prime minister he condemns all displays of extremism, as does the government’s program.

Following a series of provocations on both sides of the border, an ethnic Hungarian female student was beaten up by two males in Nitra on August 25, apparently after they heard her speaking Hungarian on her mobile phone.

On August 26, a banner with the text "Death to Hungarians" was held up by fans at a football match between Banská Bystrica and Košice. While three youths from Košice were taken into custody and charged with inciting ethnic hatred because of the banner, the identity of the attackers from Nitra is still unknown.

On top of the appearance of an anti-Hungarian video on a Slovak website and the publication of anti-Slovak pictures from a football match in Budapest, the level of tension between Slovakia and Hungary is clearly on the rise, the Hospodárske noviny daily wrote.

Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány said of the incidents: "Someone has let the genie out of the bottle. This is clearly a chain of incidents, and it is apparent that anti-Hungarian statements and actions are growing.”

The Hungarian Foreign Minister met with the Slovak ambassador to Budapest over the matter, and Hungary plans to send a note of protest to Slovakia.

However, Fico was cool to the concern of the Hungarian government. "What happened in Nitra could happen anywhere in the world," he said.

Political scientist Peter Horváth said that it was common for national leaders to take a much stronger line against such extremist behaviour, and that Fico did not seem to grasp the gravity of the situation.

"The prime minister should take a tougher attitude, he shouldn’t play down the matter," Horváth told Hospodárske noviny.

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