Slovakia’s Culture Ministry has abolished the Department of Minority Culture, which will continue to operate as part of a new department from August 1st. The decision is feared to set back the situation of minorities, including Hungarians in Slovakia. According to the ministry, however, this is simply a reorganization.
The Ministry of Culture of Slovakia has abolished the Department of Minority Cultures, and its director of Hungarian nationality, Melinda Kún Kelemen, has been dismissed. Neither the director nor her immediate superior were informed before the decision.
The department, established in 2018, was an important step in recognizing minority culture in Slovakia. It helped the work of the Minority Cultural Fund, and was an important player in the development of regional and ethnic state strategy.
Asked by news portal ma7.sk, the Culture Ministry explained the decision by stating that the department of minority culture was not in fact dissolved, it is all just a reorganization, and from August 1st it will operate as part of another department with wide-ranging tasks.
Citing sources from the ministry, the portal writes that the newly established department also includes the department dealing with the culture of Slovakians living abroad and the so-called state language department.
The latter has been often called among Hungarians in Slovakia the “language police,” as authorities referring to the language law often harassed various companies and associations solely for using the Hungarian language on signs. On the contrary, in instances when inscriptions should have been written in a minority language as well, the department wasn’t keen to act.
Furthermore, according to Ma7.sk, the former director of the “language police” has been appointed to head the newly merged department.
Talking to Hungarian news wire MTI, Péter Őry, a board member of the ethnic Party of the Hungarian Community (MKP), pointed out that the Slovakian government had already applied double standards in the field of compliance with the laws in force, as, for example, it had failed to meet the legal requirements for the proportion of minority broadcasts in the public media for many years.
László Sólymos, the president of the Most-Híd inter-ethnic party, told news portal Bumm.sk that with this step the government “downgraded” the role of minority cultures and “proved once again that it only cares about their rights and circumstances only on the level of declarations.
Featured photo via the Slovakian Culture Ministry’s Facebook page