Rudolf Chmel (Most-Híd), chairman of parliament's human rights and ethnic minorities committee, failed on March 7 to convince the committee to adopt a statement expressing concern at Prime Minister Robert Fico's recent comments regarding minorities, the TASR newswire learnt.
Only MPs from the opposition parties backed Chmel's plan at the committee session, while governing Smer legislators, who enjoy a majority in parliament, voted the initiative down.
Speaking at an international conference called 'Matica Slovenská in National History' last week, which marked the 150th anniversary of the cultural heritage organisation, Fico said: “We did not establish our independent state in the first place for minorities, although we do respect them, but mainly for the Slovak state-forming nation,” adding that he has detected what he called a “strange tendency to put forward the problems of minorities” to the disadvantage of the Slovak nation.
The rejected statement claims that Fico's utterances re-introduce the division of Slovakia's citizens into two classes - Slovaks and non-Slovaks, or more precisely, citizens-members of the state-constituting nation and citizens-members of ethnic minorities. According to Chmel, Fico's statement was inadmissible and failed to uphold the principle of the equality of all Slovak citizens. The committee was also urged to call on the premier and the cabinet to make a contribution towards the dignified co-existence of all citizens, irrespective of ethnic affiliation.
Committee member and Smer caucus chief Jana Laššáková said, according to TASR, that Fico's remarks must be viewed in their entirety, rather than taking certain bits out of context. Fico's comments have been condemned by a number of public figures, including Joseph Daul, chairman of the European People's Party caucus in the European Parliament.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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8. Mar 2013 at 10:00