Slovak president refuses to sign law on Hungarian place names
Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic refused on Friday to sign a bill passed by parliament that would allow the use of Hungarian place names in text books, in a move that could reignite a long-running row between Slovakia and its Hungarian minority, reported dpa.
Current Slovak law allows only the use of the Slovak place names even in textbooks designed for the country's Hungarian-speaking minority.
The issue has caused considerable tension in recent months between Slovakia, the 10 per cent of its population that is ethnically Hungarian and, by extension, Hungary itself.
Diplomatic tensions intensified between the two neighbouring EU members at the beginning on November when Slovak police used force against Hungarian supporters at a football match.
Meetings between the leaders of Hungary and Slovakia failed to ease the tension, but the recent passage by the Slovak parliament of a bill allowing the use of Hungarian place names, such as Pozsony for Bratislava, appeared to be a small move towards a rapprochement.
Both Slovakia's ethnic Hungarian MKP party and Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom had urged Gasparovic to sign the bill into law. However, the leader of the Slovak National Party (SNS) Jan Slota, among others, had urged the Slovak president to send the bill back to parliament.