IN SHORT

EU backs Slovakia against Hungary

A LETTER sent by European Commissioner for Enlargement Gunter Verheugen to Hungarian PM Peter Medgyessy criticised Budapest's controversial status law for being both discriminatory and interfering with the sovereignty of foreign countries.

In response, Hungarian Foreign Minister Lászlo Kovács abandoned defence of the law, saying: "We cannot allow these opinions to go unnoticed".

Following a statement from Verheugen that the status law was not in line with EU standards, Kovács also called the measure "slapdash" and "patchwork", and said it was a troublesome inheritance from the previous government of Viktor Orbán.

Verheugen's position is identical to that of Slovakia, which has refused to allow the law to apply to ethnic Hungarians living on its territory. The Hungarian parliament awaits an amended draft version of the law that would remove the greatest obstacles to its acceptance by regional neighbours.

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