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President angered by SMK

SLOVAK President Ivan Gašparovič has said he does not like it that representatives of the opposition Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) criticized Slovakia in the European Parliament last week. The SMK officials complained that the Hungarian minority was to receive less money this year from the state budget.

“I find it unacceptable that they hurry to these institutions and create an atmosphere of doubt around Slovakia,” said the president in an interview with the commercial Joj TV station.

SMK Chairman Béla Bugár labeled the president’s criticism as “communist relics”. He said that during their visit to Brussels last week the SMK representatives had also praised Slovakia in some respects.

“That does not mean, however, that I cannot have certain critical views about some concrete steps the government has taken,” Bugár said.

In his opinion, the Fico government has broken its promise to maintain the status quo with regards to ethnic minorities, and in 2007 has assigned the Hungarian minority 16 percent less in funding compared to 2005.

Sociologist Pavel Haulík, however, said that the situation in Slovakia is not so bad that the SMK would have to complain in Brussels.

On the other hand, Haulík said, the president should have tried to calm the situation and create space for a dialogue rather than escalating tensions.

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