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Slovak and Hungarian European MPs debate Slovakia’s Language Act

The European Commission will carry out a detailed analysis of the Slovak Language Act to assess its operation in the field, the Commissioner for Multilingualism, Leonard Orban, told the European Parliament during a debate on the use of ethnic minority languages across the European Union, the TASR newswire reported.

The European Commission will carry out a detailed analysis of the Slovak Language Act to assess its operation in the field, the Commissioner for Multilingualism, Leonard Orban, told the European Parliament during a debate on the use of ethnic minority languages across the European Union, the TASR newswire reported.

Initiated by Slovak MEP Edit Bauer and her Hungarian counterpart Kinga Gál, the debate commenced shortly before Tuesday, November 24, midnight and turned into a verbal shootout between Slovak, Hungarian and Romanian members of the European Parliament – with the Hungarian nationality MEPs uniformly criticising the status of minorities in Slovakia.

“I am speaking on behalf of 500,000 minority members and about the language law violating their rights. How can one be punished for using their mother tongue? Such a law cannot be applied,” said Bauer, pointing to the pending fines (of up to €5,000) laid down by the law. Furthermore, she said Slovakia is failing to fulfil all its duties stemming from the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Hungarian MEP Zoltán Balczo said that Slovakia preaches specific values but does not observe them. Hungarian MEP Csaba Sogor added that Slovakia is not the only country but a prime example of a country where language genocide is in place. Romanian MEP of Hungarian origin László Tokes described the Slovak State Language Act as a disgrace for Slovakia and as an effort to erect new walls between nations.

Slovak MEP Jaroslav Paška countered by saying that “our Hungarian friends have been teaching us of late about the use of minority languages, but somehow they forgot to look at themselves and how minorities in Hungary are being restricted in the use of their native tongue,” he said as quoted by the TASR.

“In Hungary, Slovak children can only dream about Slovak schools, as the Hungarian government is not making it possible for them – unlike other governments in the European Union,” said Paška. TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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