FRUSTRATED HUNGARIANS YANK THEIR KIDS FROOM SCHOOLS IN SLOVAKIA

FRUSTRATED HUNGARIANS YANK THEIR KIDS FROM SCHOOLS IN SLOVAKIA

BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA (AP) _ TENSIONS THAT HAVE THEIR ROOTS IN THE AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN EMPIRE HAVE ERUPTED IN A WAVE OF SCHOOL PROTESTS BY HUNGARIANS LIVING IN SLOVAKIA.
ACCUSING THE GOVERNMENT OF BLATANT DISREGARD OF THE NATION’S LARGEST MINORITY, ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARENTS HAVE PULLED THEIR CHILDREN FROM SCHOOL IN ONE-DAY PROTESTS IN SEVERAL REGIONS _ THE LATEST ON FRIDAY.
THE BOYCOTT WAS PROMPTED BY AN EDUCATION BILL IN PARLIAMENT THAT, IF APPROVED AS EXPECTED, WOULD REQUIRE HUNGARIAN CHILDREN TO DROP HUNGARIAN-LANGUAGE HISTORY CLASSES AND LEARN HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY IN SLOVAK LANGUAGE INSTEAD. BUT THE OVERRIDING ISSUE, ACCORDING TO THE PARENTS, IS THE GOVERNMENT’S CONSISTENTLY UNFAIR TREATMENT OF HUNGARIANS.
“WE WANT OUR CHILDREN TO LEARN THE SLOVAK LANGUAGE PROPERLY, BUT WE WANT THEM TO REMAIN HUNGARIAN,” SAID LADISLAV DURKOVSKY, A LEADER OF THE ASSOCIATION OF HUNGARIAN PARENTS IN SLOVAKIA.
“THE STATE WANTS THEM TO LOSE THEIR NATIONAL IDENTITY,” HE SAID.
FRIDAY’S PROTESTS BY HUNGARIANS IN THE GALANTA AND MOLDAVA REGIONS FOLLOWED A SIMILAR ONE LAST WEEK IN KOMARNO.
WHILE RELATIONS BETWEEN MOST SLOVAKS AND HUNGARIANS ARE FINE, SOME TENSIONS REMAIN FROM THE CENTURIES SLOVAKS WERE UNDER HUNGARIAN RULE _ UNTIL THE COLLAPSE OF THE AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN EMPIRE IN 1918.
WHEN SLOVAKIA FINALLY GAINED INDEPENDENCE FIVE YEARS AGO IN THE SPLIT FROM CZECH-DOMINATED CZECHOSLOVAKIA, 600,000 ETHNIC HUNGARIANS FOUND THEMSELVES IN AN ENTIRELY NEW SITUATION IN THE COUNTRY OF 5.3 MILLION. PRIME MINISTER VLADIMIR MECIAR, WIDELY DENOUNCED ABROAD FOR HIS AUTHORITARIAN RULE, HAS BEEN REPEATEDLY CRITICIZED BY THE EUROPEAN UNION FOR UNFAIR TREATMENT OF HUNGARIAN NATIONALS.
HUNGARIAN PARENTS ALREADY WERE ANGRY, DURKOVSKY SAID, BECAUSE THEY SAW THE STATE “CONSTANTLY ATTACKING THEIR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS WITH ARROGANCE, USING THE STATE BUDGET AND THE STATE MACHINERY.” THAT WAS BEFORE THE NATIONALIST SLOVAK NATIONAL PARTY (SNS) PROPOSED THE NEW BILL EARLIER THIS YEAR.
THE POLITICIANS WHO PROPOSED IT ARGUE THAT THE CHILDREN SHOULD LEARN THE CULTURE OF THEIR ADOPTED LAND.
“WE WANT TO GIVE THESE KIDS A PROPER EDUCATION,” VITAZOSLAV MORIC, A LEADING MEMBER OF THE SNS, SAID.
“HONESTLY SPEAKING, I DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE HUNGARIAN CHILDREN THE LEAST BIT,” SAID VITAZOSLAV MORIC, A LEADING MEMBER OF THE SNS. “I CARE ABOUT THIS STATE. THIS STATE, IN ORDER TO BE WELL OFF, NEEDS EDUCATED CITIZENS.”
THE PARENTS FEAR THE ONLY THING THE BILL WILL ACHIEVE IS TO PUSH THEIR KIDS FURTHER BEHIND, AS THEY ARE STILL LEARNING THE SLOVAK LANGUAGE IN FIVE CLASSES A WEEK.
12 JUN 98

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