Vietnamese community seeks recognition as an official minority

More than 3,000 people of Vietnamese descent live in Slovakia.

Illustrative photo.Illustrative photo. (Source: Vladimír Šimíček / TASR)

The Vietnamese community in Slovakia hopes soon to be recognised as an official minority by the state.

In 2021, 2,793 people declared in the official census that they are of Vietnamese descent and an additional 489 stated Vietnamese descent as their second nationality. The community came together after the census in a campaign to achieve recognition as an official minority.

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Slovakia currently recognises 13 official minorities based on nationality, the TASR newswire writes. The Serbian minority was the most recent one to be recognised officially, in 2010.

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The government does not have strictly defined criteria for recognising a minority. Vietnamese people turned to the government’s Council for Human Rights, Minorities and Gender Equality with their request to be accepted as a minority in February 2022 – nearly a decade after the ambition was first reported in the media. Slovakia lacked a Vietnamese embassy for some time, but there is now one located in Bratislava.

The Czech Republic also lacks strict criteria for recognising minorities, but the Vietnamese community there was recognised in 2013. The Vietnamese community at first had to meet two conditions: the historical presence of a community in the country, and sufficient members.

Many Vietnamese people came to Slovakia via student exchange programmes before the country existed as an independent state. They settled in Slovakia and created a bridge for their families to join them in the 1990s, where they were typically employed in family businesses. Many of them became active in the private sector after 1989. Vietnamese nationals, just like other migrants from so-called ‘third countries’ (i.e. non-EU states), are subject to stricter requirements when applying for self-employment licenses.

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