The newly appointed Hungarian Ambassador to Slovakia, Csaba Balogh, looks set to stir up relations after expressing complete favouritism and co-operation with the Hungarian coalition party in Slovakia SMK, which did not even make it into parliament last year.
Balogh hid nothing yesterday when he said the SMK party was special for Hungary’s government, while underlining that relations with Slovak government coalition party Most-hid were not on such a good footing. This is nothing new, though, as even Hungarian PM Viktor Orban met up with SMK party representatives earlier this year, but refused to meet with Bela Bugar from Most-Hid.
The SMK party is clearly more suitable as an ally to the hard line approach of Orban’s current government, which has been accused in Slovakia of employing expansive and dangerous policies. As soon as Balogh had handed over his credentials formally to President Ivan Gasparovic, he shot off to the SMK party headquarters for talks with party head Jozsef Berenyi on the touchy subjects of dual citizenship and the position of ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia.
Speaking to the press at the SMK headquarters, Balogh had said that the Hungarian minority in Slovakia were not asking for much, and that they just wanted to be able to speak their mother tongue and have an education system in Hungarian without any reproach.
Hungary is set to deal with the controversial issue of dual citizenship and voting rights for ethnic Hungarians abroad later this year, and considering the stalwart attitude of Orban’s government to date, his parliament hardly looks like it is about to make any concessions on Slovakia’s behalf.
The Slovak parliament has been opposing the tension-invoking move from the beginning, but the whole issue has also wedged into relations among politicians here. Slovakia’s own Citizenship Act still hangs in the balance as well. As it stands, if you want to be a citizen also of Hungary, you will automatically lose your Slovak citizenship, thanks to the counter-legislation pushed through by the former government of Robert Fico before it surrendered power.
As new ambassador, Balogh is obviously an envoy straight from Orban’s den, and so he had no problem pointing out that the changes to Hungarian citizenship legislation were a must, also because the number of ethnic Hungarians living permanently abroad is rising constantly. Nobody can yet say what the consequences of the new legislation will be for the already strained relations between the two neighbours.