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IN SHORT

MEPs say Slovakia's minorities need more help

MEMBERS of the Socialist group in the European Parliament visited Slovakia on November 19 as part of their inquiry into minority rights in Slovakia.

"We see that progress has been made, especially for the Roma community," MEPs Hannes Swoboda and Jan Marinus Wiersma said in a statement after the visit, the SITA newswire wrote. "But a lot remains to be done to improve the economic and social situation of the Roma."

There are still some questions about the Hungarian minority, especially surrounding the use of the Hungarian language in schools and universities, they wrote. The MEPs also said that statements by Ján Slota, the leader of the Slovak National Party (SNS), harm Slovakia.

"We made it very clear that many of Slota's speeches do not contribute to an atmosphere of conciliation and dialogue," they said. "They in no way meet European standards of public debate. Such statements could lead to fears in the Hungarian community that their rights will be reduced or are in danger."

During the visit, Swoboda met with Slota, the head of the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) Pál Csáky, Education Minister Ján Mikolaj, representatives of the Culture Ministry, and Roma organisations.

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