On October 12, former NY Governor George E. Pataki delivered a lecture at the Selye Janos University, a Hungarian-language institution in the town of Komarno, Slovakia. Mr. Pataki’s speech, entitled “The Democratic Constitutional State in the 21st Century,” was attended by 380 students and the university’s faculty. Mr. Pataki was accompanied by Max Teleki, President and Zsolt Szekeres, Board member of the Hungarian American Coalition, and László Hámos, President of the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation.
In his lecture, Mr. Pataki said that the language law adopted in Slovakia violates a fundamental democratic principle—the protection of minority rights— and emphasized that people can feel truly safe only in a state where they are allowed to speak the language in which they feel most comfortable. After the lecture, the Governor answered questions from the audience. In a reply, Mr. Pataki said that the language law could be an effective tool for those who would want to oppress a minority. Mr. Pataki pointed out that European and American human rights organizations have turned their attention to Slovakia as a result of the law, and that the Slovak government in Pozsony (Bratislava) needs to be pressured to change the law.
At the end of the lecture, Mr. Hámos called the attention of the university students to the Foundation’s website www.hhrf.org, where individuals can write about their experiences with the law’s implementation.
In Pozsony, Mr. Pataki met with Mr. Pál Csáky, President of Hungarian Coalition Party (HCP), and with the party’s leadership at its headquarters. During the discussions, Mr. Csáky briefed Mr. Pataki on the negative effects of the law, which are being felt even prior to the issuance of specific implementation regulations, expected by the end of 2009. Mr. Csáky also stated that the law’s negative effects could be reversed if the Slovak Parliament would adopt the HCP’s 17 point amendment, which has already been submitted to the Parliament and international organizations.
Following this meeting, Mr. Pataki held a press conference attended by Slovak and Hungarian media, which elicited articles from various US and European publications, such as The Wall Street Journal and Politics.hu. For reference: