NGOs request Slovak President to not sign State Language Act

An umbrella association of ethnic-Hungarian organisations called the Round Table of Hungarians in Slovakia has appealed to Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič to not sign the recently-approved amendment to the State Language Act, said Kálman Petocz from the Information Centre Forum that is part of the umbrella group, the TASR newswire wrote.

An umbrella association of ethnic-Hungarian organisations called the Round Table of Hungarians in Slovakia has appealed to Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič to not sign the recently-approved amendment to the State Language Act, said Kálman Petocz from the Information Centre Forum that is part of the umbrella group, the TASR newswire wrote.

The NGOs are especially critical of financial penalties for improper use of the language and the definition of the state language. Petocz told TASR that there are no guarantees that the act will not be misused in order to hand out selective punishments. He said that the amendment does not clearly divide official, private and public spheres.

Petocz said that the legislation extends the obligatory use of the state language from the official sphere to the public one. Another criticised part of the legislation requires that teachers at minority-language schools must keep records in both languages, including even their lesson plans for Hungarian-language classes.

Petocz said that the legislation may be contrary to the Constitution and that if Gašparovič signs the bill, a complaint will be filed with the Constitutional Court. The president must decide whether or not to sign the bill by July 18.

The criticism of the State Language Act by the ethnic-Hungarian SMK party and Hungarian politicians is based on absurd lies, said Culture Minister Marek Maďarič after a session of the government on July 15. He said that the bill will not punish anyone for using ethnic-minority languages.

Maďarič added that he believes dirty politics are at play. He also noted that no ethnic minority other than the Hungarians has raised objections to the bill. 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.

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