Thursday, March 25, 2010

Europe watches as Slovakia implements anti-Hungarian language law

Another story from my recent trip to East-Central Europe is up today over at Global Post, this one on Slovakia's draconian language law.

The country's Hungarian minority is upset because, read strictly, it criminalizes the use of any language other than Slovak in a wide range of public circumstances. The government says they're overreacting, but the government also includes a far-right party whose leader calls the country's Hungarian citizens a "cancer" which must be wiped off the national map.

Slovakia's an E.U. state, right? So what can the union do about it? As you'll read in the piece, not much. (Like most of my Global Post stories, this appears in their subscription Passport service, so you'll need to login to read it. If you care about international news, however, it's well worth the price.)

While we're in the neighborhood, Hungary's own extremist party isn't doing much to calm tensions between the two countries and is poised to enter the Parliament after April 11 elections. Jobbik, which has its own jackbooted paramilitary, has been trying to charm the foreign press corps of late, hoping to receive sympathetic coverage of their proposals to, among other things, revisit the peace settlement that ended World War I and created Slovakia. I'm on their mailing list and I listen to what they have to say: it's not charming.

Map: Hungarian minority in Slovakia (majority areas in red), Courtesy Nationalia.

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