Sunday

23rd Sep 2018

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

Poland to face EU top court on rule of law

The EU commission is expected to refer Poland to the EU's top court over firing supreme court judges, but Warsaw refused to commit on Tuesday that it will implement future EU court rulings.

EP triggers sanctions procedure, Hungary calls 'fraud'

The parliament launched a sanctions procedure against Hungary in an unprecedented vote that required a two-thirds majority from MEPs. Hungary is calling the vote a "fraud" and a "petty revenge" for its hardline migration policy.

Juncker calls for 'global' Europe

In his final State of the Union address, Jean-Claude Juncker warned of "exaggerated nationalism" in Europe - and said the EU should play a more dominant role in shaping world events, as the US withdraws from the global stage.

Orban's allies want concessions ahead of critical vote

MEPs in Strasbourg debated triggering the Article 7 sanctions procedure against Hungary, for infringing EU rules and values - while prime minister Viktor Orban claimed the parliament was about to punish Hungarians for protecting Europe's borders from immigrants.

EU parliament will not budge on office expenses

Hungarian centre-right MEP Livia Jaroka sticks to earlier decision: documents related to the minor reform of the expenses system, requested by EUobserver, should remain secret.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us