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OSCE Commissioner visits Slovakia to discuss State Language Act Amendment

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Commissioner for Minorities Knut Vollebaek visits Slovakia on Wednesday, September 16, to discuss the amended Slovak State Language Act.

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Commissioner for Minorities Knut Vollebaek visits Slovakia on Wednesday, September 16, to discuss the amended Slovak State Language Act.

Vollebaek is visiting at the invitation of Slovak Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák in order to continue the consultation process concerning controversies linked to the amendment, the TASR newswire wrote.

The ministry announced that Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and his Hungarian counterpart Gordon Bajnai declared at their meeting in the Hungarian town of Szécsény last week that both countries will accept Vollebaek's recommendations. In his assessment of the amendment, Vollebaek stated that several parts of the State Language Act, including those concerning bilingual place names, aren't at variance with international standards.

He described as a positive move the fact that officials are required to prove their written and spoken Slovak-language skills before being hired. However, he also pointed to terminological shortcomings in the act, and predicted problems with interpretation. He therefore recommended that the terminology be made more consistent, therefore. The part of the amendment that has drawn the most criticism provides for fines of between €100 and €5,000 for misdemeanours dealt with by the act. Slovakia's ethnic-Hungarian SMK party considers this to be unconstitutional.

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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