Slovakia and Hungary want to ease tensions over dual-citizenship laws and will start talks at doing so next month, Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radicova said on Friday after meeting her Hungarian counterpart. Radicova's government has moved to improve often strained relations with Budapest since winning a June election.
The two countries have a history of ethnic tension which has been highlighted by a law enacted last May by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's administration offering citizenship to ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring countries, including Slovakia.
Radicova's cabinet has proposed scrapping a law passed in retaliation by the previous Slovak government stripping people of their Slovak nationality if they take the citizenship of another country -- a move welcomed by the ethnic Hungarian minority that makes up 10 percent of the population.
Speaking alongside Orban on Friday, Radicova said she wanted a bilateral agreement on the issue of dual-citizenship, which Orban said was a possibility.
"One standard route is the signature and preparation of a standard, international agreement on dual-citizenship based on international criteria," Radicova said.
"This is a solution to the situation." She said the Slovak side would propose this at talks to begin on Feb. 17, but declined to give details. Orban defended the dual-citizenship policy and said that a bilateral agreement, while tried once, was still possible.
"The air on both sides is much better," he said, through a Slovak translator. "But in the meantime, it has become clear the dual-citizenship policy is not the devil. The worries that were attached to dual-citizenship were unfounded."
Orban's government holds a commanding two-thirds majority in the Hungarian parliament but has faced outside pressure at the start of its stint at the rotating, six-month European Union presidency.
The EU is studying the passage of a new Hungarian media law that critics have said is a challenge for media freedom.
Slovakia's previous government regarded Hungary's citizenship law as a security threat. It also retaliated with a a language law making the Slovak language mandatory for all areas of public life.
Radicova's ruling coalition, which includes an ethnic Hungarian party, scaled that back in December.
ReutersLast Mod: 29 Ocak 2011, 10:27