From the September 1 edition of Gazeta Wyborcza in Warsaw, Poland (my translation; edited for clarity):
Ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia are planning to protest today in the city of Dunajska Streda against a law they say violates their basic human rights. Under a penalty of five to ten thousand Euros, as of today it will be a crime in Slovakia to use the Hungarian language in public places.
As the Hungarian weekly Heti Világgazdaság states, every Hungarian doctor in Slovakia will from now on be required to speak Slovak with their patients, even ethnically Hungarian patients, even if neither party wishes it so.
Explanatory note: There are 550,000 ethnic Hungarians living in Slovakia. They are there because after the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed in World War I, the Allied Powers drew the borders of Hungary in such a way as to marginalize the Hungarian nation. A full 3.3 million Hungarians were left out of Hungary, and have been living as minorities in Slovakia, Romania, etc. for the past ninety years.
The protest marks the culmination of several nightmarish weeks in Hungarian-Slovak relations, during which time the Slovak government refused entry to the Hungarian prime minister, and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences declared the new Slovak language law a violation of fundamental human rights.
On Sunday senior diplomats Peter Balazs of Hungary and Miroslav Lajeak of Slovakia met to diffuse the situation and announce “a new beginning” in Hungarian-Slovak relations. That meeting will likely result in a long-delayed summit between Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai and Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico.
But that summit alone won’t end the cold war between the two European nations that has been ongoing since 2006, when an anti-Hungarian, nationalist government came to power in Slovakia. The country’s Hungarian minority, amounting to 10 percent of Slovakia’s population, can’t count on the law being rescinded any time soon.
Both the Hungarian and Slovak governments now admit that they went too far in their accusations against one another. The alarm bell for the diplomats was an incident last week, when a molotov cocktail was thrown through a window of the Slovak embassy in Budapest. The attack didn’t cause a fire, but the attempt to burn down the Slovak embassy was a clear sign of where the conflict was headed.
For its part, the Slovak government is defending its position by saying the law doesn’t discriminate against Hungarians, because it applies to all foreign languages, not just Hungarian. In an article for the daily newspaper SME, Prime Minister Robert Fico wrote: “The law won’t be removed. We aren’t in the Hungarian Empire.”
Color commentary: Robert Fico strikes me as a type of politician that is all too common in Eastern Europe: The Socialist-Racist Sleazebag. One good example that comes to mind is Andrzej Lepper, leader of Poland’s Samoobrona (Self-Defense) Party. This piece of shit is the sort of politician who can declare Muslims to be a religion of pedophiles, then turn around and lay the blame for World War II with Jewish bankers, then turn around again and demand larger handouts for farmers from Brussels. Their appeal is limited to uneducated, drunken hillbillies. This may sound impolitic, but the fact that a guy like Fico can actually come in to power in Slovakia says a lot, a lot about that country.
The Hungarians have come to understand that they can’t count on Brussels [the EU] to help them.
The only significant voice to speak up against the law was the newly elected president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek. In an interview with Le Monde in July, the Polish politician said the law is not only an attack on Hungarians, but stood against the spirit of European integration and democratic values.
Buzek’s appeal failed to stir the conscience of Europe. Neither the European Commission, nor Sweden, which holds the European presidency, took any action after Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai was refused entry to Slovakia. The European Commission, in the words of spokesman Michael Mann, said the refusal was “an issue that has two sides.”
There is just one point I want to make about this, which is that I can’t believe that the EU is allowing this to happen. When Jorg Haider’s racist party became part of a coalition government in Austria in 2000, the EU slammed sanctions on Austria and the country actually had to change its own government, presumably in contravention of its own democratic will. But the Slovak government actually institutes a Nazi-style racist law, a law that could actually kill Hungarians because they can’t talk to their own doctor in their own language — and the EU does nothing?
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