AT A SUMMIT of the prime ministers of the four Central European countries in the Visegrád alliance, the leaders of Hungary and Slovakia exchanged sharp words over the composition of the Slovak government on October 11.
After Hungarian PM Ferenc Gyurcsány accused his Slovak counterpart, Robert Fico, of having forged a coalition with "nationalists, extremists and populists", Fico retorted that Gyurcsány was apparently thinking of another country than Slovakia.
The summit had originally been regarded as an opportunity for Gyurcsány and Fico to smooth over an apparent rise in tensions between their countries in the last two months over Fico's decision to form a government in Bratislava with the far-right Slovak National Party (SNS).
However, the Hungarian daily Népszabadság reported that the two men did not meet privately because Gyurcsány demanded that Fico first distance himself from extreme nationalist and anti-Hungarian statements by some members of his coalition.
"The Slovak side regarded the Hungarian conditions as unacceptable," said a diplomatic source quoted by the Sme daily.
Béla Bugár, leader of the ethnic Hungarian SMK party in Slovakia, said Gyurcsány had also not wanted to give Fico an opportunity to claim, before the October 12 decision by the Party of European Socialists on whether to suspend his Smer party, that their meeting showed "everything is OK" between Bratislava and Budapest.