Language bill may stall treaty ratification

The Cabinet approved a controversial language bill October 24 to make Slovak the country's official language. Approved in June but since modified, the bills deals with the use of the Slovak language in state offices, schools, courts, the army, the media and at cultural events. It also requires that all goods have instructions in Slovak.

Ethnic Hungarian deputies issued a strong statement the same day rejecting the bill. Arpad Duka-Zolyomi of the Co-existence party told the Czech press agency ČTK that although Hungarian deputies want to support the ratification of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty, they will not so if parliament passes the language bill and modifications to the treaty.

Along those lines, the chairman of parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, Dušan Slobodník, announced October 25 that the ratification of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty will be delayed until December. The treaty was signed by the two countries' prime ministers in March and ratified by the Hungarian parliament in June. Slobodník said the treaty had been held up "because of a shortage of time."

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