Language law of Slovakia

The state language of the Slovak Republic . It took strength in 1995 and underwent a major amendment in 2009.

The 2009 amendment has-been Severely Criticized by Hungarians in Slovakia , as well as the government, civil organisms and general public of Neighboring Hungary , for being white Discriminatory Toward Hungarians and Their rights to use Their Hungarian language . [1] [2] The controversy about the law is one of the key points in Hungary-Slovakia relations , brought to their lowest point for many years. [3]

The law declares priority for the Slovak language, as it claims the Slovak language is „an articulation of sovereignty of the Slovak Republic“. [4] In the mixed territories, bilingualism is preserved. In cities with a minority of at least 10%, it is possible to use the language in certain official situations. The law names Several Circumstances of public and official situations, vague ] – eg doctors [5] (ALTHOUGH all medical personnel are exempt from the financial penalties [6] ) – in qui the use of the Slovak language shoulds take precedence [6]both in written and spoken form. Despite this, the law does not apply to the Czech language, which can be used in any circumstance and occasion whatsoever, as Czech and Slovak are mutually intelligible.

The 2009 changes include issuing penalties of 100 to 5000 euros .

History of the law


The first law about language was made in 1990, dubious – discuss ] when Slovakia was part of Czechoslovakia. In communities having at least 20% minority population, the language could be used in all official communications. [7]


In 1993, Czechoslovakia was dissolved in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Slovak National Party and its cultural organization Matica Slovenska urged the creation of laws to „protect“ the state language. The changes (called „language law without exceptions“) of 1995 contained punishments for not using the language. neutrality is disputed ] This wave ] was later shown to the Constitution of Slovakia and was abolished by the Constitutional Court. [8] [ dubious – discuss ] The new 1995 law vacates the earlier.


For the accession of Slovakia to the European Union, Slovakia Reviews This was created in 1999 and allowed use of minority languages in public situations wave ] (Such As hospitals) in areas with at least 20% minority. [8]

Controversial modification of the law in 2009

In 2009 the Slovak parliament passed a language law, mandating preferential use of the state language – Slovak. [9] Use of a non-state when conducting business could carry a financial penalty. Similarly, Slovak, or for singing in public or languages ​​other than Slovak or the song’s original language.

Opponents have described the law as „criminalizing the use of Hungarian;“ [10] however, according to the Slovak government, the law itself does not interfere with the use of [11]

Criticism in Hungary

Gordon Bajnai , the Hungarian Prime Minister, has been in charge of Slovakia’s scapegoating Hungarian speakers. [12] Hungarian foreign minister Péter Balázs compared the creation of the language law to the politics of the Nicolae Ceauşescu regime on the use of language. [13] [14] [15] Hungarian newspaper The Budapest Times has the Czech language in Slovakia; [16] However , this charge ignores the mutual intelligibility between Czech and Slovak, [17] which renders them compatible in business and law.

President of Hungary László Sólyom expressed his worries about the law, „the spirit of the world“ and the „multi-ethnic state“ of several bi-and multilateral agreements homogenous nation state „and“ forced assimilation „is incompatible with the values ​​of the European Union and the international laws protecting minorities. quote needed ]

Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai said the law violates the words and the spirit of several bilateral and international agreements. He said Slovak politicians „do nationalism for a living“ and he suspects the minority issues are getting into the foreground in Slovakia „to cover real problems“. quote needed ]

Péter Balázs , Foreign Minister of Hungary, told Die Presse that Robert Fico, the Slovak Prime Minister, is „unfortunately trying to get popularity by cheap means“. [18]

According to Balázs, the real reason for the language law is gaining voters for the parliamentary elections of the year in Slovakia, by „playing the ‚Hungarian card'“, and sees the issue as „part of a little political game“. He also stated that regarding the bilateral relations, he does not expect much from Robert Fico any more. Hungarian foreign minister Péter Balázs compared the creation of the language law to the politics of the Ceauşescu regime on the use of language. [13]

All four parties of the Parliament of Hungary (Hungarian Socialist Party, Fidesz, Christian Democratic People’s Party, Alliance of Free Democrats) issued a joint declaration asking Slovakia to repel the legislation.[citation needed]

Viktor Orbán , chairman of Hungary’s opposition Fidesz and a prime minister (1998-2002), said no 20th-century country „would have allowed themselves“ such and such an „absurdity“ that first decade of the 21st century. Orbán added that it is not only a question of democracy, but also of soundness, that it is not possible to create such regulations, or „at least not with the risk of being ridiculed“. quote needed ]

Former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány also condemned the law in his blog , calling it an „outrage“, and stated that there can be „no explanation or excuse“ to make it acceptable: [19]

Lajos Bokros, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and former Hungarian Minister of Finance, condemned the law in a letter stating that Hungarians in Slovakia „want to get along on their homeland“, and reminded Slovakia’s MEPs that the Hungarian minority did a great contribution to Slovakia joining the European Union and the Eurozone.[citation needed]

Hungarian radical right-wing party Jobbik organized a half-road block demonstration on the border in Komárom, stating that „the issue is no longer an internal affair of Slovakia, but an issue of European level“. Chairman Gábor Vonacalled the law „the shame of Europe“, by which Slovakia „goes beyond the frameworks of democracy“, he called the Slovak politics „aggressive and racist“. Vona urged peace entre Hungary and Slovakia as he fears there will be a third laughing Who profits from the conflicts, naming globalization as a common enemy of the two nations. [20]

Hungarian Academy of Sciences

The Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences published a Statement on the Amendment of the Slovak Language Law, and it has-been signed by Many People from around the world, Including linguistsSuch As Noam Chomsky , Peter Trudgill , Bernard Comrie , Ian Roberts , and Ruth Wodak . [21]

The Ethnic-National Minority Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in the field of protection and support of the mother tongue, the Slovak legislature’s law legal obligations „. The institute provides an example of a person who does not speak Slovak, and is forced to only reply in Slovak, according to their analysis of the law. [22]

International reaction


Knut Vollebæk , Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe High Commissioner on National Minorities concluded that the law does not violate any international standards.

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe High Commissioner on the National Minorities, Knut Vollebæk, reviewed the law and issued a report

When read systematically, it is clear that the extension of the scope of application of the Law does not (and can not) imply a restriction of the linguistic rights of persons belonging to national minorities. [23]

-  Knut Vollebæk

He also stated that the law itself does not violate any international standards or obligations of the Slovak Republic; it is more the perception of the newly enacted possible criminalization that can exacerbate the already present tensions. He also called for a very limited application of the penalisation clause. [23]

The Party of the Hungarian Coalition (MKP) asked the Slovak Government to release communication exchanged between them and Vollebæk [24] so that the opinion of Vollebæk regarding the law could not be misrepresented or distorted. According to the Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs the report was released unchanged and in full. Spokesman Peter Stano stated: „It is obvious that the Party of the Hungarian Coalition is unable to answer the question of the reliability of the report, which is in accordance with the norm.“ [25] Vollebaek will monitor the situation before the law on the language of the country. [26]

Slovak Academy of Sciences

Slovak linguists from the udovít Štúr Institute of Linguistics of the Slovak Academy of Sciences are reluctant to comment on the amendment, as the issue is highly politicized. In their opinion, however, the law has only recently been introduced.

European Parliament (EP)

Jerzy Buzek , President of the European Parliament, said the issue revolving around the law of European integration and the principles of democracy.

According to the European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages ​​(EBLUL), the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek , said the issue was beyond being simply an affair between Slovakia and Hungary. the spirit of European integration and the principles of democracy. [27] However, he said, „we need to study it. [28]

Michael Gahler , Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, also criticized the act, saying Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and his coalition partners „have yet mentally nor politically arrived in Europe“. [29]Gahler stated that Slovakia is violating „widely respected standards in the EU“ and is disregarding the recommendations of the Council of Europe, „which foresees the extended use of minority languages“. According to Gahler, Slovakia risks becoming a member of the EU and could become a „totalitarian state“. He suggested that a „modern and open Slovakia communicating and cooperating with its neighbors“ would be better for the country and its citizens; however, he does not expect this from the present Slovak government coalition.

Federal Union of European Nationalities

Hans Heinrich Hansen, President of the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) called the law absurd.

According to Hans Heinrich Hansen , President of the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN), „a language law makes it a punishable offense to use a language does not belong to the statute books of a European country“. He said this law is „totally absurd“ [30] and „insane“. [31]

FUEN published an article titled „The right to one’s own native language – the language law in Slovakia“ in which Hansen is quoted as arguing that the authors of the law made their „first main error in reasoning“ by failing to realize that „Hungarian is not a foreign language in Slovakia, but the native language of around 500,000 Hungarian-speaking citizens“. According to Hansen, Slovakia must protect and promote the native language of all its citizens, also of its Hungarian-speaking citizens.[31]

Hansen recommended examination of a good example of minority treatment, that of the Swedish-speaking population in Finland. He promised that FUEN will speak in Brussels about the issue of the law.[30]

Forum Minority Research Institute[edit]

Kálmán Petőcz of the independent Forum Minority Research Institute in Slovakia told IPS that the law „could be seen as an expression of the superiority of Slovaks over all other nationalities in Slovakia“. He said it only serves to worsen the everyday relations between Slovaks and ethnic Hungarians, and also quoted research „showing that many young Slovak schoolchildren have prejudiced attitudes towards their Hungarian counterparts“.[32]

Petőcz thinks some politicians in the government are „clearly nationalist and anti-Hungarian“, however he sees most of the government as „just populist“, who try to find „any ‚enemy‘ to pick on and use that to win votes“.

László Ollós, a political analyst of the same institute, criticized the law for being too ambiguous, in order „to give as much power as possible to bureaucrats, so that they alone can decide when to apply the law and when not to“. [32]


On September 1, ethnic Hungarians of Slovakia held in the stadium of Dunajská Streda ( Hungarian : Dunaszerdahely ) against the law. [33] The BBC gives the number of protesters as around 10,000, [3] but the Slovak paper Pravda cites only 6,000. [34] The event was attended by several hundred extremists, mostly Hungarian nationals, dubious – discuss ] who expressed their vocal support for a territorial autonomy and chanted „Death to Trianon“These were not directly addressed by the organizing party of SMK and its leader, Pál Csaky.“ „They have been protesting that they have not been protesting against Slovaks in general, they have been protesting the fact that they have no rights whatsoever. All of the major Slovak political parties are denounced as counterproductive, which will only exacerbate the tension. [35]

See also

  • Hungary-Slovakia relations


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  35. Jump up^ „Slota straší maďarskou vojnou“ . 2009-09-01 . Retrieved 2009-09-10 .