An amendment to the widely-criticised State Language Act that would considerably soften restrictions on the use of ethnic minority languages under the law passed by the former government of Robert Fico was approved by the new government on September 24, the TASR newswire reported. If passed by parliament, the new measures effective as of January will impose a fine only for the failure to release official information concerning the health and safety of Slovak citizens in the state language.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry will move to impose the €50-€2,500 fines only as last resort. Currently, fines of between €100-5,000 are stipulated by law, TASR newswire wrote.
The proposed changes will also facilitate the use of minority languages during local council meetings and the keeping of records in municipalities with a minority that makes up at least 20 percent of the population. The local authorities will be obliged to secure interpreting as well as translation services to render texts into the state language.
In medical and social establishments, staff will be allowed to use languages other than the state one when communicating with patients. At the moment, other languages may only be used if the patient does not know the state language at all. Staff in such establishments will not be required to have command of foreign and minority languages, however. Only the ministry will wield powers of supervision over compliance with the State Language Act.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
27. Sep 2010 at 14:00