Prime Minister Robert Fico described his meeting with his Hungarian counterpart, Ferenc Gyurcsány, on November 15 as "constructive and pragmatic". In a joint statement at a press conference following their talks in Komárno (Nitra region), the two premiers denounced extremism on both sides.
According to Fico, the export of nationalism and fascism from Hungary to Slovakia was unacceptable for Slovakia. By the same token, it is unacceptable for the Hungarian Guards to be connected to the opposition parties in Hungary, he stated. Gyurcsány said he is convinced that Europe in the 21st century is not threatened by fascism, because fascism has no room to grow.
"It is nationalism or hidden chauvinism that endangers Europe," he said.
Slovakia should proceed in the same way against its coalition partner as it is against extremists, Gyurcsány said.
"It is not the same thing when the nationalists are in the streets than when they are in government. Their manifestations on the streets are a common phenomenon everywhere in the world, unlike their presence in government," he said, adding that "the Slovak government is not only flirting with nationalism - it has become engaged with it."
According to Fico, the current Slovak government and parliament have not passed any measures which would worsen the position of ethnic minorities in Slovakia.
"In Slovakia, we don't have national guards with over 2,000 members," he stated.
Fico added that the composition of his colaition is the result of democratic parliamentary elections.
"I will do my best to ensure that one of the coalition partners refrains from making statements of a derogatory character," said Fico, pointing out that he has always dissociated himself from all of these comments. "I have to mention, however, that Slovak National Party is not, unlike Fidesz, connected to any extremist organisation, nor does it organise trips in Nazi uniforms. It only promotes national interests in a stronger way.”
Gyurcsány presented six proposals to help improve Slovak-Hungarian relations. In the culture and education field, both sides should provide much bigger support to institutions, and use positive discrimination of their development rights. The second proposal is the request that the ethnic-minority schools should be able to use textbooks published in another country.
According to Gyurcsány's proposal, Slovakia and Hungary should create a national codex of behaviour. A "court of honesty" should be created, which would investigate if the content of the codex is breached. The Hungarian PM also suggests founding an institution of human rights protector for national questions.
The final proposal is the reconsideration of the ban on using national symbols at sporting events in Slovakia. [Earlier in November, the Slovak Parliament approved a bill proposed by the Slovak National Party (SNS) that bans the use of foreign state symbols at domestic sporting events. - ed. note] The opinions of Slovak and Hungarian PMs concerning the police intervention at a football match in Dunajská Streda (Trnava region) on November 1 differed.
While Fico insisted the intervention was legal, the Hungarian side was not so sure.
"When a neighbouring country's government asks for an investigation of an incident, it should be carried out. The Slovak government should have provided the results of the investigation to us. I'm disappointed that this hasn't happened yet," Gyurcsány said.
Fico classifies the issue with the geographical names in textbooks for Hungarian-language schools as a practical problem, which he said he will solve.
[The schoolbooks currently contain geographical names in Slovak, with the Hungarian ones being stated only in the textbooks' appendix. - ed. note] On the contrary, Gyurcsány called it is absurd that in 2008, two PMs have to negotiate on geographical names. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
18. Nov 2008 at 13:00