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Slovakia: No Breakthrough In Treaty Talks With Hungary

  • Genevieve Zalatorius

Bratislava, 1 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - Hungarians say there was no breakthrough in meetings last week on setting up joint committees for implementing the basic Hungary-Slovakia treaty.

One of the issues preventing progress, according to Budapest, is the establishment of a Minority Committee. Hungarian officials in Bratislava tell our correspondent that Budapest wants ethnic Hungarians represented on that committee.

But Slovakia is resisting this effort, and maintaining minority representation is not necessary.

Slovakia's Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Ivan Korcok accuses the Hungarians of seeing everything through what he called "the optic of the minority issue." But, while Korcok said that there was no progress in last week's talks in Bratislava, he told our correspondent that he is optimistic that there will be another meeting between the two sides in May.

Hungarians say they are not asking for anything new, and want only what they have achieved with other neighboring countries, such as Ukraine. And, they say that if talks between the two sides have stalemated, it might be necessary for a high-level, Foreign Ministers meeting to set matters back on track.

So far, no such meeting at that level is planned.

Slovakia's Foreign Affairs Ministry is busy preparing for Minister Pavol Hamzik's visit to Hong Kong and China set for the second week in May.

Several issues are reported preventing mutual understanding between Hungary and Slovakia. One frequently cited is Slovakia's language law, which is causing consternation among ethnic Hungarians. Penalties and fines for violations came into effect at the beginning of 1997.

In addition, there is also concern about a proposed Slovak law that would require students in ethnic Hungarian schools to be taught by Slovak instructors.