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article imageEthnic Hungarian MPs upset at foreign anthems ban in Slovakia

By AFP     Apr 4, 2019 in World

Ethnic Hungarian MPs who backed a controversial law banning the singing of foreign national anthems at public events "by mistake", said on Thursday that they have asked Slovakia's president to veto it.

The law, adopted by parliament last week, makes the singing of foreign national anthems in Slovakia punishable by a 7,000-euro ($7,850) fine, except when sung in the presence of an official foreign delegation.

The Slovak National Party (SNS), the nationalist junior coalition partner in Slovakia's governing populist coalition, proposed the law ostensibly to "protect" Slovak state symbols.

But it also contains the article banning foreign anthems, a move that critics argue targets ethnic Hungarians who comprise Slovakia's largest minority.

Several MPs from the ethnic Hungarian Most-Hid party, another government junior coalition partner, who backed the law now say they did so by mistake and have asked outgoing liberal president Andrej Kiska to veto it.

"We made a mistake but we are going to correct it," Most-Hid party chairman Bela Bugar told AFP on Thursday.

"I have spoken to the president and he will return the law to parliament," Bugar added.

Bugar also said that he and the SNS leader had "agreed to remove the offending article from the law once president Andrej Kiska returns it for further debate".

Most-Hid has 13 MPs in the 150-seat Slovakian parliament.

Accounting for around eight percent of the eurozone country's population of 5.4 million, ethnic Hungarians often sing the national anthem of Hungary at football matches, in churches and at commemorative events throughout the southern part of Slovakia bordering Hungary.

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