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Slovakia/Hungary: Foreign Ministers To Meet In Bratislava

Bratislava, 13 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - The Foreign Ministers of Slovakia and Hungary will meet next month in Bratislava to discuss, among other things, bi-lateral relations.

Both parties are in the process of setting up bi-lateral commissions to deal with the most important issues, such as the environment, culture and education, integration into European structures, economics and minority issues. Slovak Foreign Affairs ministry spokesman Ivan Korcok tells RFE/RL's correspondent in Bratislava that it is necessary to do "everything" to improve all areas that mutually include Hungary and Slovakia.

Our correspondent reports the two countries will discuss a minority language law, which would allow the use of minority languages in public places. Under the current language law, which has been in effect for a little over a year, Slovak is the only language that can be legally used in public places. Hungary said last week that Slovakia is contravening its international commitments by delaying the legislation.

Hungary and Slovakia are also trying to reach an out-of-court settlement in the Gabcikovo dam dispute, which is scheduled soon to go before the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

The dispute is over Slovakia's decision to divert waters of the Danube River for its Gabcikovo hydro-electric dam project after Hungary quit a joint project in 1989 for a similar dam downstream in Hungary. Slovakia claims Hungary broke its contract while the Hungarians say diverting the water breaches international law and has caused environmental damage to Hungarian marshland.