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Slovakia: National Party To Propose Annulment Of Treaty With Hungary

Bratislava, August 1 (RFE/RL) -- The Slovak National Party (SNS), a partner in Slovakia's ruling coalition, said today it will propose that Bratislava withdraw from a basic treaty with neighboring Hungary over the sensitive issue of ethnic Hungarians abroad.

Slovakia has a nearly 600,000-strong ethnic Hungarian minority, which represents about 10 percent of its overall population. SNS spokesman Rafael Rafaj said his party would propose withdrawing from the treaty during a meeting of Slovakia's ruling coalition parties next week.

At the heart of the dispute is a communique issued at an independent conference in Budapest earlier this month. The communique called for the autonomy of ethnic Hungarians living abroad as a "basic condition" for retaining their identity.

But Slovakia charged that Hungarian government officials had attended the conference and signed the communique, thereby violating a 1995 treaty which defines relations between Hungary and Slovakia.

Hungarian officials have said the communique did not mean they favored "geographic" autonomy, only the right to retain cultural values. In an interview published in today's Hungarian daily "Nepszabadsag," Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs said Slovakia had no cause to feel alarmed.