Slovakia today announced the closure of two border crossings; in order, they say, to prevent Hungarian neo-fascist trouble-makers from entering Slovakia.
The relationship between these two European Union countries which share a common border along the River Danube is far from good. Neighbouring countries like Austria are wondering if the latest move signals the beginning of a big problem for the region.
In the south of Slovakia there lives an Hungarian minority, residue of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy which fell in 1918. Hungarians comprise 10% of Slovakia's total population of 5.4 million. Recent 'crowd trouble' at a football match in the town of Dunajska Streda (Dunas Zerdahely - H) appears to have kick-started the latest grudge war.
Slovakia claims that neo-fascists from Hungary were responsible for causing violent street battles and vandalism in the town. The Hungarians countered with an accusation of police brutality. The Slovak flag was subsequently set on fire outside the doors of the Slovak embassy in Budapest. In the Hungarian area of Slovakia road signs were oversprayed. Slovakia then demanded that Hungary deal firmly with the problem of extremism.
Hungary replied to this request with its old tactic of issuing new school books to the Hungarian children in Slovakia. These Hungarian school books are printed only with Hungarian place names (e.g. Dunas Zerdahely) and with no Slovak place names ( e.g. Dunajska Streda).
Following this escalation, Jan Slota head of the Slovakia National Party (SNS), part of the Slovak coalition government, decided to engage in schoolboy mentality name-calling. He started by calling the Hungarian patron saint "a clown on a horse" and the Hungarian Foreign Minister Göncz "a Hitler without a moustache". The final and most provocative insult was to Hungarian national pride itself. He referred to the Turul, the giant bird of Hungarian myth and legend, as a mere "parrot".
Slota: Slovakia is no longer part of Upper-Hungary, the home of the terrible Turul bird but the home of the doubled crosses of the Slovakia State. Our army should hold more manouevers to answer this Hungarian chauvinism.
Hungarian leader Viktor Orbam countered: Slovakia is preparing for a Kosovo in Central Europe.
The time bomb ticks...