A Szlovákiai Magyarok Kerekasztalának levele Knut Vollebaeknek, az EBESZ kisebbségi főbiztosának [EN]

Dear Mr High Commissioner!

I write you to protest, on behalf of the Round Table of Hungarians in Slovakia, against the measures the Slovak Government of Mr Fico is planning to enact against their own non-Slovak citizens.

The stigma of collective guilt of so called Beneš Decrees has not yet been lifted from the Hungarians in Slovakia, on the contrary, the National Council of the Slovak Republic confirmed the validity of the decrees three years ago in a declaration. Now, in the 21st century, in the European Union, the Slovak state would like to adopt a modern version of the Beneš Decrees. Once again, it wishes to do so without even asking the members of the Hungarian minority about their opinion, without consulting them a legislation that is planned to have direct effect on their lives, thus violating its obligations under the Constitution and the Framework Convention. Moreover, it wishes to do that as a reaction to a still non-existing Hungarian legislation, the aim of which is to target the ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia only in the very last instance. (Aiming primarily at ethnic Hungarians in non-member states of the EU, or not members of the Schengen Area.)

We do not want to always be objects of history, objects of power games of irresponsible politicians. We are not objects, we are living human beings who have their own aspirations and dignity. Human rights, dignity and justice are terms which some members of the Slovak governing coalition are obviously not very familiar with. You just should observe their election campaign or how the authorities and most politicians reacted to the first Slovakian gay and lesbian parade in Bratislava. We really do not want to be the whipping boys of the Slovak populists and nationalists any longer.

We, in the Round Table have done in the past year our best to start a constructive dialogue with the Government on issues concerning the Hungarian minority. However, the Government has shown very little interest in such a dialogue. We initiated a series of consultations on our proposal on the comprehensive solution of the issue of the status and rights of the national minorities, whose main ideas have subsequently been supported also by representatives of the Czech, Ruthenian, Ukrainian, German and Roma national groups. (You have got both documents.) We only had one meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister Čaplovič, but he said that most issues are beyond his competence. Minister Maďarič did not even bother to answer our letter, Minister Mikolaj´s opinion is that the main problem of the ethnic Hungarian pupils lies in the fact that they think Hungarian (!). We met Minister Lajčák a fortnight ago, but I lost my hope in that it is possible to lead a constructive dialogue with the MFA, either.

The Slovak state is concerned about the „identity” of Magyars in Slovakia because of the Hungarian law. Why do not the Slovak ruling elite care about the identity and well-being of the Magyar minority themselves? The (complete) Slovak political elite´s rhetoric and deeds are about „defending nation-state interests”, about „the state-forming Slovak nation”, about „loyal and non-loyal minorities”, making thus a clear differentiation between the (ethnic) Slovaks and all the others. Why do not they speak about defending all citizens´ interests, about the interests of the state-forming people (= all citizens)? Why did they adopt a language law, according to which one of the basic human rights – freedom of expression – means freedom of expression in the „state” language (this is not a joke, this a ruling of the Slovak Constitutional Court)? Why do they adopt legislations on patriotism, according to which „patriotism” means a positive tie to the Slovak (ethnic) nation solely? Why do not they actively promote the preservation and development of the national minorities´ identity? These are questions that need to be resolved in a process of a continuous, but institutionalised dialogue.

Unfortunately, the dialogue how the Slovak ruling elite understands it, looks like this: meeting selected representatives of minorities occasionally and pro forma, without taking up any concrete commitments, accepting no proposals or ideas submitted by the minorities, and then describing these occasional meetings as „substantial consultations” with them. We are not interested in such a dialogue any longer and do not want to pretend that there is dialogue. There is no dialogue, and this is very annoying.

Next week the Plenary Session of the cca 50 institutions and organisations of the Round Table will meet to outline a new strategy for the future.

Sincerely,

Kálmán Petőcz
on behalf of the Round Table

A Szlovákiai Magyarok Kerekasztalának levele Knut Vollebaeknek, az EBESZ kisebbségi főbiztosának

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