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Bajnai: Slovakia has violated Szecsény Agreement

The Slovak government's approval of the implementation guidelines for the amended State Language Act is considered by the Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai a violation of the agreement reached between the two countries in Szecsény, Hungary, in September, Hungarian Government spokesman Domokos Szollar said on December 16.

The Slovak government's approval of the implementation guidelines for the amended State Language Act is considered by the Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai a violation of the agreement reached between the two countries in Szecsény, Hungary, in September, Hungarian Government spokesman Domokos Szollar said on December 16.

Slovakia is going against Europe, said Bajnai, adding that the measures are in contrast both to the Szecsény agreement and to OSCE recommendations which Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico promised Slovakia would fully abide by.

Bajnai said that it is unacceptable in the 21st century that people can be sanctioned for using their own native language. "The decision violates the spirit and text of the Treaty of Lisbon and also the anti-discrimination regulations of European legislation," said Bajnai. The Hungarian government is calling on Slovakia not to begin application of sanctions (i.e. fines of up to €5,000 for failure to use Slovak, or use of ‘incorrect’ Slovak) until negotiations between both sides are finished, because it says the fines will cause moral and material damages, while also increasing tensions between the minorities and the Slovak majority, and between Slovakia and Hungary.

If Slovakia starts applying fines for the incorrect use of the state language, the Hungarian government said it would provide material and legal aid to Hungarians living in Slovakia so that they could fight such cases in the courts. According to Hungary, the aim of negotiations is to maintain what was promised in Szecsény, to implement the recommendations of OSCE High Commissioner Knut Vollebaek, and to disperse the legal problems that appeared in the State Language Act amendment and the implementation guidelines.

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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