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Textbooks to get bilingual place-names

DESPITE its two coalition partners denying their support, the governing Smer party pushed through parliament its own proposal to cover geographical terms in textbooks used in Slovakia's ethnic minority schools. The opposition helped the party of Prime Minister Robert Fico to get its amendment to the Education Act through. It represents a compromise which allows place-names traditionally used by the minority in question to appear alongside the Slovak equivalent, the SITA newswire reported.

DESPITE its two coalition partners denying their support, the governing Smer party pushed through parliament its own proposal to cover geographical terms in textbooks used in Slovakia's ethnic minority schools. The opposition helped the party of Prime Minister Robert Fico to get its amendment to the Education Act through. It represents a compromise which allows place-names traditionally used by the minority in question to appear alongside the Slovak equivalent, the SITA newswire reported.

MPs representing the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) either voted against the Smer amendment or abstained from voting. HZDS deputies refused to support the initiative after their request that textbooks for ethnic minorities include only Slovak geographical terms was rejected.

When deputies for the Slovak National Party (SNS) failed in an attempt to stop voting on the Smer amendment, they walked out of parliament. The SNS insists that the approved amendment is at odds with the constitution and the government’s programme.

Meanwhile, on December 3, PM Robert Fico rejected all six requirements made by his Hungarian counterpart, Ferenc Gyurcsány, in a letter following their meeting in Komárno last month, the SITA newswire reported. Fico called the demands unacceptable and stated that the rights of ethnic minorities in Slovakia are already protected by the constitution and laws. He declared the system one of the best in Europe. The prime minister said he saw no reason to adopt special legislation for ethnic minorities.

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