Second-rate citizens - Macleans.ca
 

Second-rate citizens

Discrimination of Slovakia’s Hungarian minority is on the rise


 

Second-rate citizensOn Aug. 25, 2006, an ethnic Hungarian student named Hedvig Malina was severely beaten and robbed in the city of Nitra, Slovakia, after she spoke Hungarian on her cellphone. “Slovakia without parasites” was written on her clothes when she first reported her injuries to authorities. A two-week-long police investigation ended without charges, while at the same time the minister of the interior stepped in front of TV cameras to announce that Malina’s claims were baseless and accused her of making up the whole incident. In May 2007, Malina was indicted for perjury. Amid cries of outrage and charges of political interference, Malina appealed her case at the Constitutional Court. And in 2008, she took her case to the European Court of Human Rights.

On Sept. 12, 2009, ignoring the laws about presumptions of innocence, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, a former stalwart of the pre-’89 Communist party who now heads the Smer (Direction) party, accused Hedvig Malina of inflicting her own injuries in order to create an anti-Slovak atmosphere. (Oddly enough, from 1994 till 2000, Fico represented Slovakia at the European Court of Human Rights, a fact that says as much about that judicial body as it does about the task of monitoring human rights offences by member states.) But Fico’s comment should come as no surprise—the bad blood goes back centuries. The Hungarian monarchy ruled the Slovaks for a millenium until the end of the First World War, while the Hungarian minority that was left in what became Czechoslovakia suffered discrimination throughout the last century. “We are victims of an accident of history,” says one Hungarian member of the Slovak parliament. “For about 1,000 years, until 1919, this was all part of the kingdom of Hungary, and since then Slovaks have been seeking new ways to deal with that fact.”

What is troubling, though, is the way current Slovak politicians are playing the anti-Hungarian card and stoking nationalist sentiment, at a time when the global recession has crippled parts of eastern Europe and unleashed a wave of discontent. The 2006 election campaign that brought Fico to power, and Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic’s 2009 re-election campaign, thrived on open attacks against the country’s minority Hungarians (around 10 per cent of the population, though the number may be higher as some Hungarians are now billing themselves as Slovaks).

Fico’s coalition partners, among them Ján Slota’s extreme nationalists and the party of former prime minister Vladimír Meciar, express similar sentiments. Slota has called Hungarians bandy-legged marauders, and in one memorable speech incited Slovaks to “get in tanks and level Budapest.” Meciar has talked of a Hungarian threat to Slovak territories that had once been part of Hungary, and, in a not-so-veiled reference to the deportation of some 70,000 Hungarians in 1945, offered a population transfer of Slovak-Hungarians across the border to Hungary. And the xenophobia has found a welcoming echo among Slovaks who have not received their expected rewards from the capitalist transformation and Slovakia’s recent membership in the EU.

The government has even legislated against the Hungarian minority. On Sept. 1, its new language law came into force, imposing hefty fines (as high as $8,000) on workplaces where employees use their own minority language for “official” business. For example, a Hungarian doctor treating a Hungarian patient must speak Slovak unless they live in an overwhelmingly Hungarian area of the country. All dealings with public officials must be in Slovak, irrespective of the fact that in towns along the country’s southern border, most people speak Hungarian. All signs, monuments and even tombstones, no matter how ancient, must show a priority Slovak version. Street signs are to be changed. All cultural events must have simultaneous Slovak translation (imagine poetry evenings with Slovak translation services for an all-Hungarian audience). There are odd exceptions for places where at least 80 per cent of the population is Hungarian, but it is unclear how that is calculated.

And meanwhile, tensions have continued to rise. A November 2008 match in the majority Hungarian city of Dunaszerdahely, between its soccer team and Slovan Bratislava from the country’s capital, was disrupted by Slovak riot police, who managed to injure more than 50 people, all of them reportedly Hungarians. Peter Pázmány, the former mayor of Dunaszerdahely (Dunajská Streda on Slovak maps), was there with his son. The police, he says, were not locals. They were brought in to create an incident. “My family has lived here for 600 years and no matter what happens we are not leaving,” he told me. They were among those to be deported to Hungary after the Second World War as part of a series of “population exchanges,” but his mother bribed the soldiers. His father lost his lands and worked as a bricklayer, but he would not give up and would not leave. “We have a strong attachment to this land,” Pázmány says. “Our ancestors’ graves are here. It is where we belong.”

Some Slovaks want to change that. On Aug. 21, Hungarian President Lászlo Sólyom was to speak at the unveiling of a statue of St. Stephen, the first Hungarian king, in Komárno (the Slovak part of the ancient Hungarian town of Komárom). A crowd of a few hundred people waited on the square—“an atmosphere of celebration for both Hungarians and Slovaks,” Tunde Lelkes, a young lawyer from Komárno told me. “St. Stephen had, after all, been honoured by both Slovaks and Hungarians as a just king.” Then a busload of hooligans arrived. They started heckling, waving placards and shouting insults. Meanwhile, the police stopped Sólyom’s car at the border and told him he would not be allowed to enter Slovakia, despite the EU’s core principle of freedom of movement and a civic invitation.

Fico was characteristically unrepentant. He said the day chosen for the unveiling was unsuitable, as it was also the anniversary of Warsaw Pact forces (including Hungarians) invading Czechoslovakia to end Alexander Dubcek’s “Prague Spring.” Fico did meet with Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai in the Hungarian border town of Szécsény on Sept. 10, and the two leaders pledged to begin efforts to tackle extremism in the region. But, says Hungarian book publisher László Szigeti, it is odd that Fico would choose to deal with the PM of another country about his own country’s minority laws, rather than engaging with his minority Hungarians.

Calmer Slovak heads are trying to prevail. According to a recent opinion piece in the Slovak Spectator, Slovak politics “can tolerate quite a lot without suffering fatal effects. But people like Slota are a dangerous infection whose behaviour can cause serious deformation of the system.” Leading Slovak intellectuals have warned in an open letter published in the liberal daily Sme that the racist, xenophobic rhetoric used by the country’s politicians is making the country sink to “a dangerous level.”

Martin Simecka, a Slovak and former editor of both Sme and the weekly magazine Respekt, says the new laws are intended to show Hungarians living in Slovakia that they are second-rate citizens. They are meant to feel afraid. And they do. Three ethnic Hungarian high school students I met in Bratislava said they are now scared to speak Hungarian on buses, that they are wary of giving their Hungarian-sounding names, that they would not make cellphone calls home in Hungarian, and that they are worried when they see Slovak-flag-waving young men. But not one of them has given a thought to moving to another country.

Book publisher Szigeti’s small office is not far from historic Michael’s Gate in the Old Town of Bratislava. He publishes in both languages, and his friends are members of both communities. His family is from Dunaszerdahely; he defines himself as Hungarian, though he was born after the Second World War in Czechoslovakia. “My life’s purpose, if I may say so without becoming pompous,” he tells me as he leans back against the wide bookcase displaying both Slovak and Hungarian titles, “is to hold a mirror to each, so they can see how they seem to the other.” Though it has become a Sisyphean struggle, he is sure it will, eventually, succeed.

Ethnic Hungarian parliamentarian Miklós Duray is not so sure. In recent years, he says, many Slovak politicians have chosen to fuel anti-Hungarian sentiments—a useful political ploy, especially during recessionary times, to unite the electorate for their own gains. But the battle for Hungarian minority rights—their own schools, newspapers, books, street signs—has been ongoing since 1920. Indeed, Duray was arrested in 1982 for his human rights activities, including organizing to keep what rights the Hungarian minority had during the Communist regime. In his book Kutyaszorító (Choke Collar), he writes about the indignities of house searches, beatings, and the terrible boredom of 470 days in jail.

More recently, Duray has been in trouble for labelling Slota’s party as fascist three years ago. He was convicted of sullying its reputation. His apology was written in Hungarian; now the party wants it reissued in Slovak, and he is being threatened with a $50,000 fine. But Duray is not about to give up now that Slovakia is a self-declared democracy. “The right to free expression has been used here to express hatred,” he says. “To unite a people, what is simpler than to identify a common enemy?” The good news, Duray says with a smile, is that in his view, “Slovaks do not have a natural antipathy toward Hungarians. In time, they may decide to change governments.”

Hedvig Malina, in the meantime, completed her degree, married her ethnic Slovak boyfriend, and gave birth to their healthy Slovak-Hungarian baby.

Anna Porter, the author of Kasztner’s Train (2007), is currently researching a new book about central Europe.


 

Second-rate citizens

  1. Anna Porter, comimg from a Hungarian background, could not help but write a negative portrayal of Slovakia. May I suggest she read a little more about Slovakia and how Hungary abused Slovaks prior to World War One,then perhaps she would be a truer historical observer.By the way , why would one not want to speak the language of the people , where one lives., after all one expects, and does receive all the social benefits of that country.

    • Why would not one be allowed to speak his/her mothertongue without fear in a country where he/she belongs to a 10% minority? By the way… those people also pay their taxes there. So receiving social benefits is not charity from the country but right of the citizen!

    • The Hungarians and the land where they are, was given to Chechoslovakia against their will.
      The Scots, Wells, Irish, Bretons, Normans, all lost their languages under Brit and French rules. How come the Slovaks forged their literary language under the "Thousand year Hungarian opression"?.

    • In fact, it is a good idea to read history and get to know the facts – but one should read both sides and assure that the writer of the historical "facts" is not driven by political motives. Having said that the future is ours and we form it as we want. Any aggressions or hostility againts any nation, language or believe is not the correct solution for the future. This one thing can be learned from every history book.

    • Walking on the streets of Bratislava with friends from Austria, USA, Canada, Romania, Hungary and locals, our common language is Hungarian. What language do you suggest we should use? And the dirty looks???
      We Hungarians must be really inept at oppressing people because the number of Slovaks about doubled during the terrible oppressive millenium. In any case, the legacy of King St. Stephen said that a unilingual country is weak, foreigners should be welcomed, etc. etc. And he wrote this in the 11th century.
      Now, about the 88 of 89 Benes decrees still on the law books … most aimed at removing, deporting, oppressing the minorities (German, Magyar, Rusyn, Pole) in the drive to a homogeneous nation state that never existed in that region … well, let's talk about that.
      By the way, I find it really, really interesting that Slovak comments are tagged with a nickname only. Hiding?

    • Dear Margita, PLEASE Wake Up from your shameful lack of knowledge or history about this subject. While "arguing" for the 'poor, abused' Slovaks at the hands of the 'evil' Hungarians, you simply show your incredible ignorance of history, and worse, show an inability to comprehend that there needs to be a real and equitable solution to this situation, not a knee-jerk reaction to Slovakian national sentiment. Given the history or the region, and the mixing of numerous ethnicities (Slovak, Hungarian, Czech, German, Ukranian, etc.) over different times throughout history, I would argue that there is NO true Slovak…only a country – the Slovak Republic. This country (Slovakia) and its leaders has a obligation to protect ALL of its citizens – not just those who are a particular ethnic group. While this would perhaps seem difficult for those who hold 'Nationalist' sentiment to comprehend, the alternative is another Yugoslavia…so think about it before your leg (or mouth) jerks again!

  2. We need not go too far, oh, say Quebec, for examples of "All signs, monuments and even tombstones, no matter how ancient, must show a priority [French] version. Street signs are to be changed." So, what is Porter's point? She could have done her homework a little more carefully and found that sovereignty of state takes precedence over "victim" rights. Clearly, an article written by a journalist with an agenda, a disappointing piece from a magazine that hosts a fine journalist like Mark Steyn.

    • The Slovak language law has more to it than signs and written notices. The article is very appropriate. The Quebec example supports exzctly that the Hungarian, or any other minorities, should not be penalized for practicing thier language or tradition in Slovakia or anywhere in the world,

    • What is wrong with the law?

      Well, let's see some examples:

      -Imagine a village celebrating the 800th years of its foundation. Most of the people present are ethnic Hungarians – people who live in this village and whose great-great-grandfathers also lived there… Songs, speeches, verses, dances… An event without politics. This celebration has to be simultaneously bilingual according to the law. Do you think people there will enjoy the cultural event that takes double-long time?
      -Two firemen – both ethnic Hungarians – are in action, trying to save some people from a burning house. They cannot communicate in Hungarian with each other – even if nobody else hears them, since this is an official business. Do you think that the usage of the state language will make them work more effectively?

      But these and the ones Anna Porter mentioned in her article are the smallest problems with the law. The real tragedy of it is that it poisons the relationship between Slovaks and Hungarians in everyday life. There has been no other top-news in Slovakia for the last couple of months. Who cares about corruption? Who about financial crisis? There is one and only interesting topic – and this is the Slovak – Hungarian issue. Whatever goes wrong in the country, this is the card that is played by the politicians. Average people start believing that what they hear is actually right. Somebody`s right to show dominance and the others duty is to obey in silence. Word – by – word if we read the law – perhaps we do not find anything disturbing in it. However there were so many misinterpretations, and so many blind political statements that the average citizen – who never reads the law, and never consults a lawyer for a proper understanding – makes his judgments on the basis of the falsifications. People feel the frustration in the country caused by many other issues, but this is the only problem that is named. And then nobody should be surprised when teenagers are beaten up for speaking the minority language among each other or when a mother is told by a doctor to comfort her child in a hospital in a different language than their mother tongue is… Sad story. Isn`t it?

      • Did you read the law?

        • § 3 (2) The employees and state employees of organs and natural persons, based on paragraph 1, of
          transport, postal service, telecommunication, as well as the members of the Armed Forces of the
          Slovak Republic (hereinafter referred to only as “armed forces”), Armed Services and Fire
          Departments are obliged to have a command of, and use the state language, while on duty.”

          § 5 (6) Cultural and educational events are held in the state language. Exceptions are the cultural
          events of national minorities, ethnic groups, foreign guest artists and educational events with
          the purpose of education in the field of foreign languages, as well as musical pieces ad theatre
          performances with original texts. The programmes are first announced in the state language
          with the exception of the announcement of the programmes mentioned in the second sentence
          of this section, as far as these programmes are realised in a language that fulfils the
          requirements of basic comprehensibility from the point of view of the state language.

          § 9a (1) If the Ministry of Culture discovers violation of obligations in the range according to § 9
          section 1 and authorities and legal persons according to § 3 section 1, natural persons
          entrepreneurs or legal persons, after a repeated written notice still do not eliminate the illegal
          state within the given period or if they do not carry out the correction of discovered violations in
          the given period of time, authorities and legal persons according to § 3 section 1, natural persons
          entrepreneurs and legal persons are imposed a fine from 100 to 5 000 EUR by the Ministry of
          Culture.

          … but I still think that the law and the interpretation is one thing. Poisoning the relationship between Slovaks and Hungarians with all the disputes is an even bigger problem. Unfortunately there is bad atmosphere in the country because of this.

          • Why poisoning ? Do you want to name my only one country where you can became employ of state without knowledge of official language?

          • Nobody says employees of the state should not speak the state language.

          • Look you sound like reasonable person I have no problem with Hungarians in fact my wife of 4o years is Hungarian from Zitny Ostrov one of my sons live in Slovakia for more than five years and he hear no complaints from my wife relatives and EU human right commission did not found Slovakia guilty of any human right abuse and even Knut Vollebaek, the High Commissioner on National Minorities for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said that the law is not against international standards and no one has been able to prove to me that it is.

  3. Old ethnic rivalries are rearing their heads once again. Ethnic Hungarians are under seige by laws introduced by the Slovaks mandating that Slovak must be official language of all public matters. This constitutes harassment of the Hungarians who continue to live in the confiscated areas.The EU Human Rights Commission needs to take this matter up as quickly as possible to send a message that the rights of minorities cannot just be swept aside by these draconian edicts.

  4. Congratulations! Very well written, balanced article!

    • After second world war they were more than 200 thousand Slovaks living in Hungary. If they had same rights and freedoms as Hungarians living Slovakia, their number would be a lot more than present 50 thousand.

  5. I agree with ibivi, the EU is supposed to help not only the rich, but the poor too, and so far the EU hasen't done too much to support the poorer nations, none the less, the minorities in the poorer nations in the EU. Changing street signs, etc I don't see a problem with, but forcing language upon people in a business environment, along with a fine for not following, and changing hungarian monuments/graves is just horrible… it's about time the EU puts a stop to this!

    • Dammit, didn't Slovakia want to join EU? So, you suggest that they wanted to join EU not to have full access to – arguably – the world's largest labour market, education and employment, but to the direct cheques?

      It's their decision. Small states can do whatever they see fit, but less than 20 years in, then can either work hard or get lost.

  6. This law is almost the same as Quebec's Bill 101. Why are we more concerned with injustice half a world away when it can be found so near?

    • its not I am serious you are totaly wrong dude

  7. Im from Slovakia and this article is completely one-side view. I miss the opinion of normal intelligent Slovak (not some drunk creature like Jan Slota – hes our burden, but you know you always have some simple minded electors in central europe who just love drunk politician. Iam ashamed for that, but what can i do in there)

    …. students are scared to to speak hungarian in bus? dont make me laugh, lady, you are that kind of journalist who was one day in Paris and became the specialist for whole Europe. some glosses are very amateur and and prove no-knowing the problem… like that causes about Hedviga or president Solómyi… few, one-sided sentences dont show the truth

    the problem is, our country has ecomic problems and the politicians are playing with nationalisic card to hide their disablement to solve problems…

    BUT… this statement holds for politicians from Hungary too. their country has HUGE problems in economic and social field… and all what they do, they lead massive politician attacks to Slovakia. so HU do exactly the same stuff like SK. maybe different way is, the hungarians attack slovakians in their own state (on politician level) and we not, and they are much more loudly than us

    (i apologize for my bad english :))

    • well done dude

    • Jesus, you're immature. Just a typical Slavic response of "We great Slovakians don't disrespect those bloody damn pussies Hungarians".

    • Slovaks were not only tolerated in Hungary , they were able to keep their language
      for 1000 years, they were able to doubled numbers of Slovakian speaking population
      under the so called Hungarian rule. In contrast to this , now since 1920 ( in less than
      a century ) half as many can speak Hungarian, thanks to the intolerance toward the
      minorites. The supernationalistic effort of the minority of the Slovaks can result only
      in the rejection of this State from the European Union.

    • Dear Axsta, it is Not your language that I would hold against you – even if you were speaking Hungarian…it is a lack of acceptance of your fellow citizens – regardless of their backgrand or language. As citizens of the Slovak Republic, should all citizens not have equal rights and be treated equitably? Or should it be acceptable to discriminate against a person because of their background or language?!? When you comprehend that Slovakia has many ethnic minorities and that there are many ways of 'being Slovak', then you will understand that you cannot discriminate between citizens, but all must be treated fairly.
      If, instead you feel that the child-like behaviour or the Slovakian and Hungarian governments is acceptable, and that you shoud just the 'schoolyard fight' take place, then you left with little more than another Yugoslavia…so think about it! The result would be people like me discriminating against you just because of your 'bad' language!

  8. One thing I disagree with as far as this article goes is that an official Slovak city like Dunajska Streda should never be referred to in Hungarian only (as Dunaszerdahely). After all, readers of this article are mostly non-Hungarians, therefore, if this is an international audience, and if one of us wants to find this city on an international map, we will only find it by its Slovak name. I don't care how ancient a Hungarian town it is, its official name is now Slovak and Hungarians have to live with it.

    Other than that I don't think this article is one-sided. I have now looked into the issue and tried to view both sides of the coin. Ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia have good reason to be fearful and an EU-friendly government should never ever get into a coalition with a fascist party like that of Ian Slota's. PM Fico has just lost all his credibility because of this, and no matter what he does, he will always be referred to by historians as "he, who united with the extremists".

    May I add that it's not only Hungarians in Slovakia who live in fear. The Roma (Gypsy) population also faces severe discrimination and intimidation in both Slovakia and Hungary. And I know that there are also Hungarian extremists who scape goat minorities and foreigners. What I have noticed, however, is that Hungary's government certainly does a lot more to ease these tensions, whereas Slovakia's gov't tends to build on this tension to divert attention from economic problems and also to unify their electorate on this artificially built platform.

    • Thanks for a reasonable voice. The article seems indeed balanced, but those locations ought to be referred to in their Slovak names (as well). And yes, it is not only the Hungarians who suffer, and the phenomenon is in fact representative of larger tendencies in Central Europe.

    • Hungarians in Slovakia live in fear – that is myth, novel. artificial statement. i live in fear because Canadians sing their antheme too loud… (^^) have you seen South Park movie where USA and Canada bursted into the war? i dont think americans live in fear of canadians :) some ideas here are on level from exxagerated to absurd : i apologize….btw, story about gypsies is something total different – you can write ten books about it and you still dont get any result

    • Thank you for the balance and well thought through comments.

  9. Living in the US with many of Eastern European ethnic minorities side by sides in peace, I find it very disturbing that the European Union is unable to provide similar peaceful coexistance to her constituents. TK

  10. Living in the US with many of Eastern European ethnic minorities side by sides in peace, I find it very disturbing that the European Union is unable to provide similar peaceful coexistance to her constituents. TK

  11. The problem is a general one: no country should prohibit usage of minority languages between people of the same culture, or the use of such a language when the population speaking it represents a certain proportion in the locality or region concerned. This principle is well establioshed in the Charter of Minority Languages adopted by the Council of Europe years ago. Slovakia is a member of the Council of Europe and so it would be logical that it ratifies and applies the principles embodied in this Charter to the minority languages spoken on its territory.We had already enough human suffering in Eastern Europe by reviving old practices from the age of extremist nationalism. Look at the example of Switzerland where I live…

    • Agree completely!!

  12. This is part of my life story how I was treated in Slovakia for being a descendent of ethnic Hungarian: (just a beginning); And what I describe herein below happened in 1966-67. It was in many ways similar to what is going on today. Maybe even worse.
    ===================================
    CONTINUATION herein below

    • It may have been worse in 1966-67 because that was still under the heel of a Communist political order, but today the Fico-Slota-Meciar team claim to be democrats and worthy of a place in the expanded European Union.. Thank you reporter Poerter for shining the light of publicity on the travesty of Slovak minority policies. Your reporting is accurate and untainted by the nationalistic frenzy that characterizes the thinking in ruling circles in Bratislava. Thank you and congratulations for a job well done.

  13. Slovakia is a country well known for its nationalistic politics. This nationalism in Slovakia is present nearly everywhere and in every aspect of peoples' lives. Living in Slovakia, in nationalistic Slovakia, I was stigmatised from the first day that I went to school. Normally, when a pre-school child speaks fluently in two languages, it is an advantage to the child. But in my case, it turned out to be that the knowledge of another language, other then Slovakian, was a hindrance, not an advantage. Speaking two languages is like any other skill; it requires practise. Of course, living with my grandma in the country, I heard Hungarian language more often. Hungarian became my dominant language; consequently I developed Hungarian accent in my speech. Although I was a genuinely bilingual child, in school the Slovak teachers called it a speech impediment. I quickly became stigmatised as a child with defective pronunciation of those thirteen vowels, four diphthongs and thirty-two consonants in Slovakian language. <continuation herein below>

  14. The school became for me the terror of trilling exercises, duress to articulate correctly rolled ‘r', palatized consonants, postalveolar affricates and fricatives and other unusual sounds. Vibrations against the alveolar ridge produce Slovakian rolled ‘r'; this alveolar trill is long voiced syllabic; Slovakian people are particularly proud on this allophone, which strongly resembles farting ass. One of the meaning of this sound, when a voiceless bilabial plosive ‘p' is added as prefix and voiced alveolar plosive ‘d' is added as suffix, getting ‘prd', which truly means ‘to fart'. Every Slovakian must be able to produce this sound correctly, otherwise he risks to be condemned to having handicap and thus make him less worthy in the eyes of the hardcore of proud Slovakian people.
    <continuation herein below>

  15. My visits to my grandma became forbidden or allowed rarely and only at my mother's wishes. My emotional attachment to my grandma became an undesired one to my teacher. It all resulted in completely forbidding me to use and speak in Hungarian language. It was an order from my teacher communicated to my mother. My mother was a cruel and she followed the order of the teacher literally. She thought she had the right to control my life in any way she wished; she treated me like a property and not as a human being with my own feelings. There were beatings, slapping, hitting, harsh words, and negative comparison to my grandma and to my father on a daily basis.

  16. Hungarians and Slovaks had lived in the same country , on the whole quite peaceably for more than a thousand years.( Czechoslovakia, incidentally,lasted a few decades!) They intermarried, fought against Turkish and Habsburg oppression, and the villages were ( and still are) interspersed. Petofi, one of the greatest poets of Hungarians had a Slovak mother.

    The excesses of Magyarization occurred during the latter part of the nineteenth century. We should clear the air once and for all: these events should be examined by a joint panel of professional Slovak and Hungarian historians( not propagandists), as well as the disciminatiory actions committed against Hungarians since their incorporation into Czechoslovakia/Slovakia since the Treaty of Trianon in 1920.

    Perhaps Slovak nationalists should come to Toronto and walk along many of this city's streets that have bilingual signs. Nobody is short-changed as a consequence!

    • Thank you for supporting and expressing a wonderful theme – peaceful coexistence!

  17. A very thoroughly researched ,well-written and balanced presentation of the Slovak Language law and its effects on the Hungarian minority and the Slovak-Hungarian relationship . I had expected a more vigorous and principled response from the European Union and its different institutions to this challenge-these Slovak practices may have a poisonous effect on the Union as a whole as well.

  18. About the comparison of Quebec and Slovakia: 1. two wrongs do not make one right; 2. there is a world of difference in the enforcement. For all appearances, Quebec still has an independent judiciary, nor does the Lieutenant Governor make comments about judgments or cases decided by courts.It is also different to try to defend the language of some 4 or 5 million people in a sea of English or aSlavic language against Hungarian spoken by about 10 millon people world-wide in the middle of a sea of Slavs.

  19. The fundamental problem is that in 1918-1920, the Hungarian inhabitants of the territories transferred to Czechoslovakia were never asked if they wanted to become citizens of that country. In a democracy, the consent of the people is essential and the Hungarian minority has not given its consent – if a referendum had ever been held, they would have voted for Hungary. In that respect, neither Czechoslovakia nor Slovakia has ever been FULLY democratic – for the ethnic majority (Slovaks), their state is legitimate; for the ethnic minority (Hungarians), the Slovak state is only doubtfully so. This package was made worse by the Benes decrees which declared the ethnic Hungarians collectively guilty. Regardless of what individuals had done between 1938-1945, if they were Hungarian, they were dispossessed. If the Slovak majority wants to have a genuine democracy, then they will have to confront this double illegitimacy. If they don't, then their democracy will be partial, with differential rights for the majority and the minority.

  20. Every word is true,

  21. Thanks for sharing the link Jozef. I was also looking into something like this. Majority, minority, and democracy only shows that it's all politics.

  22. A small part of slovakia shold stea bee hungary trianom did not get it right.

    No name from australia