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Dual Slovak-Hungarian citizenship still a problem

April 19th, 2012

PM Orbán has a tough job ahead if he wants to foster Central European co-operation, while Slovakia is bent on taking new discriminatory measures against ethnic Hungarians.

In 2010, towards the end of his first term in office, Prime Minister Robert Fico of Slovakia passed a law depriving inhabitants of their Slovak citizenship if they chose to become citizens of another country. This was meant to be in retaliation for Hungary’s new legislation about easing access to Hungarian citizenship for those who, or whose ancestors, were Hungarian citizens some time in the past – in practice for ethnic Hungarians living in neighbouring countries. (See Budapest, February 18.) After being sworn in a second time as Prime Minister, Mr Fico said the law will be amended, in order not to punish Slovak nationals who are also citizens of any other country, except Hungary, for the Hungarian law on “easy citizenship” is still in force.

In an editorial in Magyar Nemzet, István Pataky remarks that European law does not allow for ethnic discrimination. Therefore the Slovak government intends to choose a formula whereby dual citizenship is tolerable whenever one lives in the country which has granted one its citizenship. But in reality, Fico has already achieved what he wanted, Pataky remarks, for precious few ethnic Hungarians have deemed it advisable to apply for a Hungarian passport. The planned amendment is a new challenge to Hungarian-Slovak relations, and Pataky notes that it comes at a time when Hungary would like to strengthen Central European co-operation within the European Union.

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