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OSCE okays language law guidelines

AFTER the guidelines to Slovakia’s controversial State Language Act became effective on January 1, Knut Vollebaek, the High Commissioner on National Minorities for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), whose office was involved in drafting the guidelines, issued a statement in which he expressed his approval of them.

AFTER the guidelines to Slovakia’s controversial State Language Act became effective on January 1, Knut Vollebaek, the High Commissioner on National Minorities for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), whose office was involved in drafting the guidelines, issued a statement in which he expressed his approval of them.

“The text of the Principles underwent a number of changes in the process of adoption,” Vollebaek wrote in a statement dated January 4. “However, I welcome the adoption of the Principles, since they provide the needed guidance for applying the provisions of the amended State Language Law and for overseeing the implementation of the obligations it establishes.”

The Government Principles for the Implementation of the State Language Law provide for respect for non-discrimination and proportionality and should thus safeguard the right of persons belonging to national minorities to use their mother tongue in the private and public sphere, Vollebaek wrote.

Vollebaek expects the Slovak authorities to closely monitor and evaluate the implementation of the State Language Law, particularly with regard to the imposition of fines in order to avoid undue limitations on the use of minority languages, and he said he intends to remain engaged on this matter “until the balance between strengthening the State language and protecting minority rights is achieved”.

The Slovak ministers of foreign affairs and culture welcomed the statement as confirmation of the state’s assertion that the language law is justified while simultaneously respecting standards for the use of minority languages, SITA reported.

The Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK), which has consistently opposed the revised law, by contrast said that the statement by Vollebaek demands that the Slovak government adopt an improved law on the use of minority languages and passes a complex act on minorities, SITA wrote.


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