Tuesday

27th Feb 2024

Pressure mounts on Slovakia over anti-Hungarian incidents

Slovakia is facing harsh criticism from its southern neighbour, as the country shows new signs of anti-Hungarian sentiment.

The criticism has been triggered by Friday's (25 August) attack on a 23-year-old ethnic-Hungarian woman, who was robbed, beaten up and whose T-shirt was marked with the nationalist slogan "Hungarians, return to behind the Danube."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Komarno in Slovakia: several anti-Hungarian incidents have sparked tensions across the Slovak-Hungarian border (Photo: European Commission)

The next day, police arrested three men bringing an 11-metre long banner with "death to the Hungarians!" written on it to a soccer game.

The Hungarian foreign ministry summoned the Slovak Ambassador to Budapest to explain the incidents at a meeting today (28 August).

Prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany condemned what he called "atrocities and increasing hatred against foreigners" and demanded his Slovak counterpart, Robert Fico, do the same.

"The policy of silence must be ended immediately", Mr Gyurcsany told journalists, adding that there is "a direct link between the nationalists being part of the Slovak coalition and rising extremism."

War of words

Mr Fico denounced "all acts of extremism," promising that both government and police will act immediately if necessary.

However, he added that it is not up to Hungary to decide when and how Slovakia should respond to incidents.

"I will not allow anybody, including prime minister Gyurcsany, to dictate the pace of the Slovak government".

At the same time, Mr Fico rejected a proposal from the opposition Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) to adopt a joint parliamentary declaration to address the issue.

He instead accused ethnic-Hungarian politicians of fostering nationalistic feelings and trying to capitalize on recent incidents.

"After having failed to perform in the social area, they look for a different topic", the Slovak leader said.

Approximately half a million ethnic Hungarians live in Slovakia.

Fico's friends

The tension started to mount after Mr Fico's social democrats (Smer-SD) in July formed a government with the far-right National Party (SNS) of Jan Slota, known for his anti-Hungarian and anti-Roma views.

Since then, there have been a series of incidents on both sides of the border, including damage to the Slovak embassy in Budapest and a banner at football match saying "Jan Slota must die", referring to the SNS leader.

The Party of European socialists have also reacted with dismay to Slovakia's post-election developments and are planning to freeze Mr Fico's membership in the group.

Analysis

Almost 20 names in running for EU top jobs

With four months until the European Parliament elections, there are already some 20 names in the hat for the ensuing reshuffle of EU top jobs.

EUobserved

New government in Belfast is much ado about not much

The deal to restore Northern Ireland's government — after nearly two years — is being spun as a major triumph. But not much has changed. This is an exercise in fine-tuning and political window-dressing.

Investigation

Far-right MEPs least disciplined in following party line

In a fractious parliamentary vote, the level of party discipline often decides the fate of legislation. Party discipline among nationalists and far-right MEPs is the weakest, something potentially significant after the June elections. Data by Novaya Gazeta Europe and EUobserver.

Latest News

  1. MEPs slap three-month ban on foreign ads ahead of EU polls
  2. EU nature restoration law approved after massive backlash
  3. Memo from Munich — EU needs to reinvent democracy support
  4. For Ukraine's sake, pass the EU due diligence directive
  5. All of Orbán's MPs back Sweden's Nato entry
  6. India makes first objection to EU carbon levy at WTO summit
  7. Angry farmers block Brussels again, urge fix to 'unfair' prices
  8. Luxembourg denies blind spot on Nato security vetting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us