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THE DYNAMICS OF SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN RELATIONS – THE SHIFT FROM LANGUAGE ISSUES TO LEGAL AND SYMBOLIC QUESTIONS

Jaroslav Mihálik, Juraj Marušiak
Keywords: Slovakia, Hungary, language policy, minority, nationalism ,

Abstract

Language practice and its official recognition are considered crucial markers of national identities in the region of Central/Eastern Europe. The issue of language rights used to be a vital aspect of the agenda in national movements in the former Austrian (AustrianHungarian) Monarchy, together with the process of territorializing and constructing of national identities in the region since the nineteenth century. The protection, persistence, preservation and further development of the national language was introduced as part of the moral obligations and commitments of the members of a community to the constructed national community. 

This article examines two discrete yet related research questions that address language. The first one is based on dependence theories and analyzes to what extent the contemporary language policy of the Slovak government and political elites as well as its institutional and legal framework are affected by the decisions adopted in the past which created certain institutional as well as mental frameworks of shaping of the language policy. The second research question is related to the place of the “language issue” in contemporary Slovak domestic political discourse and its role in bilateral relations between Slovak Republic and Hungary with regard to the EU accession in 2004.