Hungary, Slovakia promise dialogue over minorities

The presidents of Hungary and Slovakia pledged Tuesday increased dialogue to resolve differences over minority rights, in the first visit to Hungary by a Slovakian head of state in nine years.

"Although quarrels persist, we have taken an important step to make them disappear," Hungarian President Janos Ader said after his meeting with Slovakian counterpart Ivan Gasparovic in Budapest.

Gasparovic for his part said that ethnic minorities enrich countries and that Hungarians and Slovaks should get better acquainted.

Relations between the two countries have often frayed over the situation of the ethnic-Hungarian minority in Slovakia, who account for close to 10 percent of the 5.4-million population.

In 2006 the nationalist Slovak National Party, whose leader made several anti-Hungarian statements, joined the governing coalition, while a 2009 law restricted the use of the Hungarian language in dealings with public officials.

Bratislava was vexed in 2010 when Budapest passed a law granting dual citizenship to ethnic Hungarians outside Hungary. The sizeable ethnic Hungarian minority in Romania has also been a source of contention between Budapest and Bucharest.