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2010-01-04: OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities issues statement on Slovakia's language law

THE HAGUE, 4 January 2010 - The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Knut Vollebaek, issued the following statement today:

"The Government of Slovakia has adopted the Principles for the Implementation of the amended State Language Act. The Principles are effective as of 1 January. They were elaborated on my recommendation in order to address ambiguities, add clarity and provide a single authoritative interpretation of the Law. The text of the Principles underwent a number of changes in the process of adoption. However, I welcome the adoption of the Principles, since they provide the needed guidance for applying the provisions of the amended State Language Law and for overseeing the implementation of the obligations it establishes.

It is essential that steps taken to promote the State Language do not undermine linguistic rights of persons belonging to national minorities. The Government Principles for the Implementation of the State Language Law provide for the respect of principles of non-discrimination and proportionality and should thus safeguard the right of persons belonging to national minorities to use their mother tongue in the private and public sphere.

I expect the Slovak authorities to closely monitor and evaluate the implementation of the State Language Law, particularly with regard to the imposition of fines in order to avoid undue limitations to the use of minority languages. I intend to remain engaged with this and other matters until the balance between strengthening the State language and protecting minority rights is achieved."

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