National minorities in Slovakia (percentage of total population according to 2011 census)
- Hungarian: 458,467 (8.5 percent)
- Roma: 105,738 (2.0 percent; but according to the latest Atlas of Roma Communities there are 402,840 Roma, i.e. 7.45 percent)
- Ruthenian: 33,482 (0.6 percent)
- Czech: 30,367 (0.6 percent)
- Ukrainian: 7,430
- German: 4,690
- Polish: 3,084
- Jews: 631
Religions in Slovakia (according to 2011 census)
- Roman Catholic: 3,347,277 (62 percent)
- Evangelical: 316,250 (5.9 percent)
- Greek Catholic: 206,871 (3.8 percent)
- Reformed: 98,797 (1.8 percent)
- Orthodox: 49,133 (0.9 percent)
Government proxy for Roma communities
The post was established in 2001. It is responsible for preparing measures and activities to solve problems of the Roma minority, and to implement measures passed by the government. The government proxy is part of the Interior Ministry. At the moment the function is held by Peter Pollák from the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) party.
Government proxy for national minorities
The post was established in 2012. The main task is monitoring and analysing whether the state and municipal bodies observe the rights of national minorities. Findings are part of a report submitted to the government by March 31 each year. The job also involves helping prepare various reports and comments on prepared legislation. The proxy also observes the redistributions of grants on cultural activities of national minorities.
The government proxy is part of the Government Office. The post has been empty since the previous government proxy, László Nagy from the Most-Híd party, resigned in June.
Government Council for Human Rights, National Minorities and Gender Equality
The council was established in 2011 as an expert, advisory, coordination and consulting government body. The council comments on observing the international treaties in the area of human rights, and discusses the reports on this issue and legislation. It is composed of eight committees, including ones dealing with national minorities, prevention and elimination of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance, as well as the rights of the LGBTI community. It is chaired by the foreign affairs minister, a post currently held by Miroslav Lajčák.
Government’s programme statement
The government promised to support the activities of national minorities which “significantly contribute to the formation and development of cultural diversity as a traditional and inseparable part of the development of Slovak society”.
The government pledged to create conditions under which national minorities will be able to retain and develop their identity, language, culture and traditions, but stresses that there should be a status quo, and “balanced relations of the majority nation and national minorities through tolerant dialogue of Slovak society”.
Regarding churches and religious associations, the government promised to support caring for cultural monuments owned by the church, and to continue in discussion over financing churches.
The entire fourth section is dedicated to the rights of national minorities and ethnic groups. It secures, among other things, the right to develop their own culture, the right to information in their mother tongue, the right to gather, and the right to establish and keep education and cultural institutions. Minorities can also have education in their own language, use their language in official communication and have the right to attend discussions pertaining to national minorities and ethnic groups. The constitution also grants the freedom of religion and the right to change religions. If a person wants, he/she can also choose not to adopt a religion.
According to the law on using the languages of national minorities, minorities are entitled to use their language in official conversation, receive information in their mother tongue and mark the names of their hometown and streets in the minority language if their number in the municipality reaches at least 20 percent. This rule changed in 2011 when the necessary limit was lowered to 15 percent.
Moreover, the inhabitants of municipalities can decide to change the name of a municipality to the name in the minority language if they support it in a valid referendum. Minorities can also have their own radio and television broadcasts, press and education. They can also ask for grants to fund their cultural projects.
28. Oct 2013 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff