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State Language Act guidelines finalised

THE MINISTRY of Culture has finished drafting its guidelines for implementation of the State Language Act and submitted the material for interdepartmental review, the SITA newswire reported.

THE MINISTRY of Culture has finished drafting its guidelines for implementation of the State Language Act and submitted the material for interdepartmental review, the SITA newswire reported.

The ministry cooperated in drafting the guidelines with experts from the office of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) High Commissioner for Minorities Knut Vollebaek. Vollebaek stated in his final statement on the cooperation, sent in a letter addressed to the Culture Ministry dated November 26, that the current version of the government's proposed guidelines represents a good foundation for implementation of the provisions of the revised State Language Act and for supervision of fulfilment of the obligations which result from it, SITA reported.

The Culture Ministry has said it considers the proposed guidelines for implementation of the State Language Act to be an internal matter for the Slovak Republic. As a result, it said, Slovakia’s neighbour Hungary will be informed about the contents of the document only via a joint Slovak-Hungarian committee.

Hungary claims that the revision of the State Language Act contradicts European norms and international conventions, and violates the rights of ethnic minorities that Prime Minister Robert Fico promised to preserve on taking up his post. The Slovak government has dismissed Hungary's allegations.

The government's guidelines for implementation of the amended State Language Act should become effective as of January 1, 2010. Until then, the Culture Ministry will not issue fines stemming from violations of the law.

The revised law was adopted by parliament in June of this year and took effect on September 1. The revision tightened supervision of the use of correct Slovak in official communication and introduced fines of up to €5,000 for violations, which may be issued after a first written reminder sent by the Culture Ministry. The OSCE said that the sanctions should be used only as a final option.


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