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Budapest lacks Slovak ambassador

HUNGARY's Foreign Ministry claims that delays on the part of Slovakia to appoint an ambassador to Budapest reveal a diplomatic message from neighbouring Bratislava.
Slovakia has not had a fully accredited ambassador to Hungary since Fall 2002 - a tense period between the countries when differences on the implementation of Hungary's law on ethnic minorities soured relations.
"It is a fact," wrote Tamás Tóth, spokesman for Hungary's Foreign Ministry, to the Hungarian monthly magazine DT - Diplomacy and Trade "that such a long delay in appointing an accredited ambassador from a neighboring country is unusual in Europe, and can be interpreted as a kind of diplomatic message."

HUNGARY's Foreign Ministry claims that delays on the part of Slovakia to appoint an ambassador to Budapest reveal a diplomatic message from neighbouring Bratislava.

Slovakia has not had a fully accredited ambassador to Hungary since Fall 2002 - a tense period between the countries when differences on the implementation of Hungary's law on ethnic minorities soured relations.

"It is a fact," wrote Tamás Tóth, spokesman for Hungary's Foreign Ministry, to the Hungarian monthly magazine DT - Diplomacy and Trade "that such a long delay in appointing an accredited ambassador from a neighboring country is unusual in Europe, and can be interpreted as a kind of diplomatic message."

The Slovak Embassy in Budapest characterised the absence of an ambassador as "fully technical". The last fully accredited ambassador ended his diplomatic mission in September 2002, following sabre rattling on how to implement Hungary's Benefit Law, legislation that afforded special benefits to ethnic Hungarians living in Hungary's neighbouring countries.

Under the Benefit Law, families of ethnic Hungarian citizens in neighbouring Croatia, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, Serbia, and Slovenia became eligible to receive basic subsidies in their own country, as well as preferential treatment while traveling or working in Hungary.

Following implementation of the law, Slovakia publicly slammed it and asked that Slovak citizens not be subject to application of a law that Bratislava claimed to have "extraterritorial" and discriminatory effects.

In December 2003, however, the two countries signed an agreement on the issue, making it "acceptable to European norms and international practice," according to the Hungarians.

Andrew Princz is the editor in chief of DT - Diplomacy and Trade

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