Slovakia’s Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška is protesting against a session of the Hungarian parliament’s committee for unity which is set to take place in the Slovak town of Komárno, Nitra Region, today (Wednesday, June 27). He said he plans to send a letter to his Hungarian counterpart, László Kövér, to express his disagreement with the Hungarian MPs’ move, the TASR newswire reported.
Paška claimed that having a national parliament of another country organise its committee’s session in a foreign country is absolutely unprecedented. He also conveyed his dismay to Hungarian Ambassador to Slovakia Csaba Balogh. A large proportion of Komárno residents speak Hungarian, not Slovak, as their first language.
“We do not think this is an orthodox approach,” Paška said, as quoted by TASR. “The doors always stand open and we will gladly welcome Hungarian lawmakers but in a way that is normal, diplomatic and adheres to protocol.”
He added that the Hungarian Parliament did not even bother to inform Slovakia beforehand.
Paška also pointed out that the Schengen Agreement did not cancel borders and only facilitated their crossing, and that Slovakia is a sovereign country with its own bodies and national issues.
“These gentlemen plan to come over here from the sovereign national parliament [of Hungary] to talk about Slovak citizens and issues that concern all Slovak citizens, regardless of their nationality,” he said, as quoted by TASR. “However, if I am not mistaken, it is still the Slovak parliament, Slovak government and other state administration bodies that are accountable to the citizens of Slovakia.”
The session in Slovakia has also been criticised by the Most-Híd party, which represents mainly Slovakia’s ethnic Hungarians. Its leader Béla Bugár said he considers such plans, without informing Slovakia beforehand, to be a recurring mistake.
“Having a certain committee of the Hungarian parliament convening a session in Slovakia would not have been a problem in and of itself, had they chosen to contact [Slovak MPs] or the Foreign Affairs Ministry,” said Bugár, as quoted by TASR. “There would have been no problem then. But this can only serve to flare up tensions. I do not know who benefits from this, but it is surely not ethnic Hungarians living here.”
Meanwhile, the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) said it regards Paška’s criticism as “old times” in relations between the two countries. The party referred to a 2009 incident in which the Slovak authorities blocked Hungary’s then president László Sólyom from coming to Slovakia to take part in a ceremony to unveil a statue of King Stephen I in Komárno, TASR wrote.
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
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