OSCE Representative recommends no fines in amendment to Language Act

OSCE High Representative Knut Vollebaek said that abolishing fines in the amendment to the State Language Act is appropriate.

OSCE High Representative Knut Vollebaek said that abolishing fines in the amendment to the State Language Act is appropriate.

“The fines are not desirable as they don't promote general understanding among nations and the concept of a united society,” Vollebaek said after his meeting with Culture Minister Daniel Krajcer, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Vollebaek said he appreciates that the amendment modifies the fines so that they do not affect the private sector as well as the positive reactions of the Hungarian government. The OSCE High Representative saw the English translation of the amendment only on Wednesday for the first time. For that reason he will comment on the proposal in more detail after taking time to study it.

The amendment provides that as of January fines are to be imposed only in cases where information concerning lives, health, security or property of Slovak citizens or information published by public administration is not presented in Slovak. The Culture Minister is authorised to impose fines from €50 to €2,500, a decrease from the current €100 to €5,000.

The Hungarian Dual Citizenship Act and the subsequent reaction of Slovakia to it during Robert Fico's government both did not serve to improve bilateral relations between the two countries, Vollebaek said after meeting Vice-Premier for Human Rights and Minorities Rudolf Chmel.

“The Hungarian Act might have elicited certain concern about interference into Slovakia's sovereignty. Also, the Slovak reaction was too hasty and didn't aid the vision of amiable relations between the countries,” Vollebaek said, adding that every country has a right to modify the citizenship on its soil. “And it's up to the individual states whether or not they will accept a dual citizenship.”

The opinion to come from the Venice Commission concerning the State Language Act may also influence the wording of the amendment, which was approved last week by the Government and is now heading to Parliament. Vollebaek was informed about this by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Béla Bugár in Bratislava on September 29. Bugár added that the Commission's report should be known on October 20.

“We informed Vollebaek that it (the amendment) is in the first reading (in Parliament) in October, but the second reading will be in December. This means that if we get the report by the Venice Commission as soon as it is ready we'll still have the possibility to read it over and possibly propose some changes in the second reading,” said Bugar, adding that Vollebaek was satisfied with this response. Bugar also explained to Vollebaek what changes the current government is proposing in the State Language Act.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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