SLOVAKIA made good progress in relations with ethnic minorities, says Knut Vollebaek, the High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) during his visit to Bratislava on February 10.
“Relations with minorities are not like exams that need to be passed, rather it is a process”, said Vollebaek after meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister Dušan Čaplovič, the SITA newswire reported.
Vollebaek's office, which exists to support inter-ethnic relations in education, civil society and media participation, is willing to help Slovakia in this process, he added.
According to Vollebaek, problems in minority issues usually emerge from practical difficulties, such as access to education or language restrictions.
The important thing is that minorities are granted their basic rights related to education, using their mother tongue, having their media and participation in public affairs, Vollebaek told the Sme daily. On the other hand, minorities have to adjust to the life with the majority, for instance by learning the official language. Without that, it's impossible to hold the country or society together, he explained.
Čaplovič said the position of minorities in Slovakia is satisfactory, sometimes even above-standard. However this does not mean they cannot be even better, he said.
Some problems have yet to be resolved, especially in Slovak-Hungarian relations, which are reflected in relations of the Slovak majority with the Hungarian minority in Slovakia and relations between the Hungarian majority and the Slovak minority in Hungary.
Čaplovič said that the Slovak government wants to improve cultural, social and economic conditions for all citizens of the Slovak Republic who are members of minorities.
16. Feb 2009 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports