Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico fiercely rejected the joint declaration of Hungarian parliamentary parties calling on Slovakia to withdraw the amendment to the State Language Act. The Slovak government will not succumb to pressure and will not repeal the revision to the State Language Act, said Fico at a special press conference, according to news wire SITA.
Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament Katalin Szili sent the declaration to her Slovak counterpart Pavol Paška earlier this week.
According to Fico, Hungarian politicians cease to understand that Slovakia is an
independent state, no longer under Hungarian rule. He also said that Slovakia is a country where the rights of ethnic minorities are fully respected.
“It is a sovereign country with Slovak as its official state language,” said Fico as quoted by news wire TASR. “It is natural to expect of every single citizen that, regardless of their nationality, they will have a command of and have a right to communicate in Slovak.”
According to his statement, if the right to speak Slovak is denied, sanctions will kick
in. Fico also stressed that the language act amendment did not alter anything in the relationship between the state language and minority languages, wrote TASR.
“The opposite is true, in some areas the amendment expands the use of minority languages and introduces sanctions for the violation of the law,” Fico said.
The Slovak parliament passed the long-discussed Language Act – proposed by Culture Minister Marek Maďarič – on June 30. President Ivan Gašparovič signed the bill into a law in mid July.
The amended law introduces fines of up to €5,000 for the use of incorrect Slovak from September 2009, and will also enable stricter official supervision of the use of ‘correct’ Slovak.
According to the law, doctors, nurses and caretakers in health-care and social facilities in municipalities in which significant ethnic minorities live may speak with patients and clients in the language of those minorities. If texts on memorials and plaques are written in both the state language and a foreign language, the foreign inscription may not be bigger than the inscription in the state language.