The “shared success story” of how Hungary and Slovenia guarantee the rights of minority citizens in each other’s countries can set an example for European Union institutions and the entire world, Speaker of Parliament László Kövér said after meeting his Slovenian counterpart on Thursday. Kövér and Urška Klakočar Zupančič met representatives of Slovenia’s Hungarian and Hungary’s Slovene minority communities in Szentgotthárd, in western Hungary, and attended an event marking the 30th anniversary of the Hungarian-Slovenian bilateral agreement on minority rights. Addressing the event, Kövér said the agreement served as an effective means of strengthening ethnic peace, national fairness and political stability. He said these values were especially important given how unresolved issues around national minorities always resulted in ethnic conflict and political instability, and could eventually lead to local or world wars, and he cited the Yugoslav Wars and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war as examples.
The bilateral agreement was in many ways ahead of its time and could serve as a model for the development of a minority protection regime at EU level, which the bloc’s nearly 50 million minority-status voters have been wanting for years, the speaker said. He said the unique aspect of the Hungarian-Slovenian agreement was that identified the national community as the subject of special protection. It defines the individual rights of minorities in the areas of culture, education, language use, media, political participation, contact with the mother nation, and recognises collective minority rights, Kövér said.
Also, under the agreement, both countries made a commitment to take into consideration the special interests of local minorities when it comes economic and regional development plans and ensure their economic and social development, Kövér said. Hungary and Slovenia also vowed not to the public administrative bodies of local councils to the detriment of minorities, he added.
Klakočar Zupančič said both Slovenia and Hungary continued to treat minority rights as a top priority, adding that national minorities in the two countries would continue to embody cooperation and respect. She said the agreement contributed to good neighbourly relations between the two countries and proved that people who speak different languages could still understand each other, and that national minorities were an asset rather than a threat to the country they live in.
After the ceremony and a joint press conference, Kövér and Klakočar Zupančič visited a bilingual primary school in the nearby village of Apátistvánfalva and a Slovene national minority country house in Őrfalu. In the afternoon, the speakers visited the town of Lendava (Lendva) in Slovenia’s Prekmurje (Muravidék) region, where they attended the signing of an updated version of a 2012 cooperation agreement between the Hungarian and Slovene national minority umbrella organisations in Prekmurje and Hungary’s Rábavidék.