Slovakia and Hungary not to issue declaration on extremism

THE FOREIGN ministers of Slovakia and Hungary agreed at a meeting yesterday that there was no need to issue a common declaration condemning extremism following acts of provocation on both sides of the border. The ministers agreed instead to use dialogue and normal diplomatic channels to resolve the problem of ethnic intolerance.

Slovak Foreign Minister Ján Kubiš and his Hungarian counterpart, Kinga Gonca, said that the vigorous response of civil society organizations in both countries had convinced them that there was no need to take extraordinary steps to calm tensions.

Several violent attacks on ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia, and anti-Slovak banners displayed in public in Hungary, led in August to calls for Slovak politicians especially to distance themselves from extremism. The Slovak government has taken international criticism for including the far-right Slovak National Party in its ranks, which Hungarian politicians say has encouraged ethnic intolerance in Slovakia.

The ministers disagreed, however, over to what extent the problem was an international one, with Kubiš claiming the existence of an “anti-Slovak campaign”, and Goncza saying that as both countries were part of the international community, whatever happened between them was bound to concern international organizations.

The standing Slovak-Hungarian Committee for Minorities is to meet on September 22 to take up the situation.

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