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Culture ministry wants to give advantages to Slovaks abroad

A law crafted by the Culture Ministry would give almost three million Slovaks living abroad advantages over other foreigners living in or visiting the country, Culture Minister Ivan Hudec announced at a press conference on October 29. Hudec, who is to submit the bill to the government, said the legislation defined the term "foreign Slovak" and set down criteria for how a foreign Slovak national may go about legally obtaining such status.

Among the benefits foreign Slovaks would enjoy under the law is simplified entrance into Slovakia and advantages connected with their stay on Slovak territory, Hudec said. As examples, Hudec said foreign Slovaks may be employed in Slovakia without asking for a labor permit, and will be able to study at Slovak schools under the same conditions as Slovaks do, according to the law. Foreign Slovaks who apply for long-term stays in Slovakia will be given precedence over other foreigners and will also be freed of visa requirements, provided Slovakia has a visa agreement with their country.

Hudec said, however, that three demands raised by organizations of Slovaks abroad were not incuded in the bill. One was the right to vote in Slovak national elections, which was rejected by the ministry on the basis that it is not accepted in most countries and would provoke enormous complications.

In preparing the law, the ministry also rejected a demand to extend to Slovaks abroad property restitution rights within Slovakia as well as introducing automatic dual citizenship to Slovaks abroad. According to Hudec, the last provision would only facilitate acquisition of Slovak citizenship if a foreign Slovak applies for it.

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