SLOVAK Foreign Affairs Minister Ján Kubiš met his Hungarian counterpart Kinga Göncz in Brussels on October 15 to try to smooth over the tension that has plagued Slovak-Hungarian relations over the past several months.
The officials agreed to work together on revising the agreement that Slovakia and Hungary concluded in Paris in March 1995, in which both countries pledged not to decrease the level of support for minority rights within their borders.
Kubiš accepted Göncz’s recommendation that a series of meetings be held to determine which points of the agreement each country believes the other has violated. They also agreed to meet again in December to discuss the findings. Officials in Budapest have raised the issue of geography textbooks in Slovak schools for the Hungarian minority that teachers and parents have said they find unacceptable.
“Also, it seems that Hungarian schools have not received money from European Union resources, while the schools in [Slovak National Party chairman] Ján Slota’s constituency get enormously high support,” Göncz told the public Slovak Radio station. She added: “This raises the pressing question of whether the allocation is discriminatory.”
After the meeting, Kubiš told journalists that both sides realise there is much to be done to improve bilateral relations.
“There are a number of questions we’ve been waiting to ask, so we’ve agreed to meet again before the end of the year,” Kubiš told the public broadcaster Slovak Television.
Slovak-Hungarian relations have long been stormy, but tensions recently escalated dramatically when Slota made comments about Göncz in which he called her a “poor devil” and compared her to Hitler. Prime Minister Robert Fico has distanced himself from the comments, but has not condemned them outright.