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Ministry: criticism of Language Act is ‘disinformation’

Calls for international pressure to be put on Slovakia in connection with its Language Act have been described by the Slovak Foreign Ministry as a continuation of a "misleading, disinformation and slanderous campaign".

Calls for international pressure to be put on Slovakia in connection with its Language Act have been described by the Slovak Foreign Ministry as a continuation of a "misleading, disinformation and slanderous campaign".

The remarks were made by ministry spokesman Peter Stano, reacting on Wednesday, October 21, to statements made by Zsolt Nemeth in the United States the previous day. Nemeth, the chairman of the Hungarian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, had said during a visit to Washington that Slovakia needs to be subjected to very strong pressure in the near future. He had also said that international public opinion is on Hungary's side in the Language Act dispute, adding that Hungary is simply trying to curb Slovakia's nationalist politicians.

"We perceive these activities as a continuation of a misleading, disinformation and slanderous campaign against Slovakia on the part of some Hungarian politicians," Stano told the TASR newswire. The US has not officially objected to the language law, but the first sign of pressure to do so may have been the recent visit of former New York state governor George Pataki to Slovakia. He expressed his "support for the protection of Hungarians living in Felvidék", according to Nemeth. (Felvidék means ‘highland’ in Hungarian and was used before 1918 to refer to most of what is now Slovakia (or 'Upper Hungary'). The term is now used mainly by Hungarian nationalists.)

The US Embassy in Bratislava told the TASR newswire on October 21 that it has noted the evaluation of the language law carried out by OSCE Commissioner for National Minorities Knut Vollebaek, including his recommendations regarding judicious application of fines that ensue from the act. Embassy spokesman Chase Beamer said that the US embassy will continue to monitor the situation. Asked about Pataki’s critical remarks about the law, Beamer said that Pataki’s was a private visit to Slovakia and that he "does not represent the US government".

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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