Friday, May 14, 2010

Slovakia And Hungary Spar Again

There is little love between the Eastern European states of Hungary and Slovakia.  Hooked at the hip for centuries under the old Magyar dynasty, the two states learned how to hate the other, and are still airing out issues today.  One issue in particular riles the powerful in Bratislava and Budapest, the fate of ethnic Slovaks and Hungarians living on the wrong side of the border.  Hungary has now upped the ante, debating legislation that would grant citizenship to Hungarians living abroad, meaning mainly Slovakia where about a half a million reside.  That has sent Slovak Premier Robert Fico berserk, labeling the legislation a "security risk" to Slovakia.

Dual citizenship is a non-issue pretty much every where else in Europe, but not in Slovakia.

On May 13, Slovakia called home its ambassador to Hungary for 'consultations.'

Fico said the Hungarians were dabbling dangerously near the edge of international law.

The Slovaks are angered Hungary never consulted them on the proposed legislation.

Fico threatened undisclosed countermeasures, stating with gusto, "Our answer will be very tough."

Fico dropped a more than subtle hint that ethnic Hungarians in Slovia who take Budapest up on their offer, could risk losing their Slovak citizenship.

"Granting of such citizenship will be linked to a serious risk for the applicants.  The Czech Republic has a law under which accepting another citizenship [leads to] a loss of the Czech one," he noted. 

TIes between Slovakia and Hungary dropped down a few degrees in 2006 when Fico corralled into his center-left coalition as a junior partner the ultra-nationalist and anti-Hungarian Slovak National Party, or SNP, led by the ever objectionable Slovak hardman, Jan Slota, who yearns for the day when Hungarians and Roma, or Gypsies, will leave Slovakia.

As the Informant has noted, bringing in the SNP cost Fico's Smer, or Direction, Party its good standing among European socialist parties, who for the first time ever, kicked out a party of its comrades. 

The SNP has been in the headlines lately for printing up election posters depicting a dark-skinned man and a golden necklace, accompanied by the slogan, "Do not feed those who do not want to work." The poster has sparked outrage in Slovakia, not least among the Gypsies, or Roma, themselves, who are at the bottom-rung in Europe's socio-economic feeder system.

As the Informant reported, Roma groups were outraged with the posters. 

SNP leader Jan Slota's campaign was "disgusting", Frantisek Tanko of the Union of Slovak Roma told reporters. "We hear nothing from Mr Slota but 'Roma are dirty and steal'."

However, the SNP is not all that out of sync with the thinking within Smer. 

Fico's party has proposed shipping Roma children off to boarding schools to drag them into mainstream society, in what would be one of the biggest, as well as controversial, social engineering projects ever undertaken in Europe. 

Fico's Roma-off-to-boarding-schools proposal has been interpreted as pre-election jawing.  Getting tough on the Roma, who suffer from unemployment rates of up to 90 percent and are seen in Slovakia, or anywhere else they live for that matter, as deadbeats, is a sure-fire campaign winner. 

Slovakia holds parliamentary elections on June 12. 

It's obviously not only the Slovaks using emotive issues to score political points.

Hungary's premier-elect Viktor Orban pushed the citizenship law in campaigning for April elections which Orban's right-wing party Fidesz won. 

In the end, it all comes down to politics.
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