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PES representatives monitoring minority rights

A European Parliament (EP) delegation led by EP's socialist (PES) faction vice-chairman Hannes Swoboda arrived in Slovakia on November 19 to gain a more detailed picture of the status of minorities in the country and the maintenance of their rights.

The visit comes within the framework of the dialogue that PES has opted to keep with Slovakia's officials in connection with assessing the fate of the Smer-SD party within the faction. The relationship has been on shaky ground since it formed a Coalition Government that included SNS chairman Ján Slota last year.

However, Swoboda and the delegation met with Slota during day one of his trip. Before his arrival, Swoboda (from Austria) said it was hard for him to imagine that one meeting could possibly bring about a change of opinion about the SNS, which the PES accuses of inciting racial intolerance. Speaking after the meeting, Slota said, "I think my expectations were fulfilled 100 percent. It was a friendly meeting. But, after all, the gentlemen arrived with a clear opinion that had been outlined in advance."

The parliamentary delegation, the members of which included Slovak and Hungarian MEPs as well as the former Parliamentary Reporter for Slovakia Jan Marinus Wiersma, also met Education Minister Ján Mikolaj, Culture Ministry representatives, and representatives of Roma civic organisations. The PES suspended Smer-SD's membership in October 2006. TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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