PRIME Minister Robert Fico and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán opened a new cultural centre, the Slovak House, in the Hungarian village of Pilisszentkereszt on October 2. Known as Mlynky in Slovak, the village is home to a large Slovak community.
Fico praised the significance of the day for Slovaks living in Hungary who, he said, were receiving the new centre as a gift from both the Slovak and Hungarian governments.
“This house serves primarily as proof that whenever there is goodwill and commitment on both sides, we are capable of getting to grips with delicate and problematic issues,” said Fico, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
The Hungarian prime minister’s speech was full of compliments. While Slovakia was behind Hungary in economic terms a mere 10 years ago, he said, it has now overtaken it.
“If I were to single out a country and a premier which is the best in its fight against the crisis, I would need to put Slovakia and Robert Fico in first place,” Orbán said, as quoted by TASR. He went on to state that Hungary and Slovakia differ on some issues but that joint economic accomplishments provide a good foundation for resolving a number of complex problems that the countries share.
Mlynky has a population of around 2,300, of whom roughly 55 percent are ethnic Slovaks. The original centre was repossessed by the village council in March 2008 in order to make way for municipal office space, but the Slovaks refused to leave. Protests against the decision from neighbouring Slovakia and the Slovak minority in Hungary prompted both governments to agree to co-finance the new centre.
While both countries originally pledged to provide the same volume of funding, disputes later arose after the Hungarian forint weakened against the euro.
This was resolved when the Hungarian government agreed to provide almost €14,000 per year to the Slovak House over a period of three years in compensation, TASR wrote.
8. Oct 2012 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff