THE HUNGARIAN Coalition Party (SMK), Slovakia's ethnic Hungarian parliamentary grouping, celebrated its tenth birthday on June 21. To mark the occasion, the party held a ceremonial meeting in Dunajská Streda, the SITA newswire wrote.
At the gathering, party chairman Pál Csáky said that Hungarians in Slovakia do not deserve accusations or criticism.
“We do not eat somebody else’s bread in this country, we are not a burden round the neck of other people,“ he said.
Csáky described ethnic Hungarians self-confident and free people.
“We deny any offences, no matter whether they come from Žilina or Bratislava,” he said, alluding to anti-Hungarian sentiment frequently expressed by nationalist leader Ján Slota, the former mayor of Žilina.
Csáky said that Hungarians want to live in understanding and peace with everybody, but also want to be shown tolerance and respect.
Former party leader Béla Bugár, who was SMK chairman for nine years until 2007, and former agriculture minister Zsolt Simon did not attend the event, despite being invited.
Both have expressed discontent with Csáky's leadership style.
Csáky said he regretted that his predecessor did not come, describing it is neither smart nor gracious, SITA reported.
The party arose in 1998 from the merger of three Hungarian ethnic parties and after the general election that year became a member of the ruling coalition.
The SMK was a coalition party in both of the Mikuláš Dzurinda governments.
Bugár said that the SMK had contributed to Slovakia's admission to NATO and the European Union, and that the Hungarian minority in Slovakia has stopped being regarded as 'the enemy' within Slovakia.
30. Jun 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports