THE SLOVAK government says it intends to raise the issue of dual citizenship for Slovakia’s Hungarian minority at international forums, starting with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák met the OSCE’s high commissioner on national minorities, Knut Vollebaek, who has also been involved in the dispute over the amendment to Slovakia’s State Language Act, which has been much criticised by Hungary, to talk about the amendments to Hungary’s citizenship law.
“I’ve asked Commissioner Vollebaek to officially enter the process, to analyse the Hungarian law and give me recommendations that should be binding for all OSCE countries, including Hungary,” Lajčák said. In his statements after the meeting he stressed Slovakia’s claim that Hungary has consistently refused to consult over the law change.
Vollebaek refused to give detailed comments on the Hungarian amendments since he was not familiar with the text of the draft, but promised to examine the text when he gets the opportunity and make an assessment, in order to be able to come up with an opinion and recommendations.
“In general, the decision to confer citizenship is considered to fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of each individual state and may be based on preferred linguistic competences as well as on cultural, historical or familial ties,” Vollebaek said. “The purpose, procedure and the timing of such a decision are separate questions that can be raised.”
He also said principles of good neighbourliness and friendly relations should be taken into account when pursuing policies affecting citizens of another state. He encouraged Hungary and Slovakia, both members of the EU and NATO and bound by bilateral treaties, to lead bilateral consultations.
Vollebaek also said, on a general note, that he believes states should be cautious about granting citizenship “on the mere basis of ethnic, national, linguistic, cultural or religious ties”.
“This is particularly true if citizenship is conferred on residents of a neighbouring state residing there in substantial numbers,” Vollebaek said.
31. May 2010 at 0:00 | Michaela Terenzani