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Europe

Slovak, Hungarian leaders Fail to Thaw Icy Relations

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and his Hungarian counterpart Ferenc Gyurcsany failed to thaw icy relations between their countries in a meeting called to stem nationalist tensions.

Members of the controversial new extreme-right Magyar Garda or Hungarian guard march during their swearing-in ceremony in Budapest, Hungary

The Slovaks accuse the Hungarians of exporting fascism and extremism to Slovakia

While the leaders on Saturday, Nov. 15, called for cooperation after their meeting in the border town of Komarno, they mostly engaged in a stinging exchange that did more to highlight their disagreements than signal a quick way out of the crisis.

"The biggest problem is the export of fascism and extremism from Hungarian territory to Slovakia," Fico said at a press conference televised on the TA3 news channel.

He urged his counterpart to crack down on Hungary's neo-Nazis, who have contributed to escalating tensions in recent weeks.

"It is unacceptable for us ... that 28 people dressed in Hungarian fascist uniforms cross the border and march through a Slovak town," Fico said referring to a recent incident.

Accusations of nationalism

Speaking through an interpreter, Gyurcsany countered that Slovak politics "are not merely flirting with nationalism, but are engaged to it" and urged Fico to fight extremists in his own government.

Relations between the two neighbours have deteriorated since the summer of 2006 when Fico formed a three-party government, which includes the Slovak National Party, led by Jan Slota. The controversial Slovak politician has repeatedly attacked Hungary.

The tensions have escalated in recent weeks, owing to a string of extremist acts on both sides of the border.

Slota recently insulted Hungarian Foreign Minister Kinga Goncz, likening her to Adolf Hitler, while Hungarian right-wing extremists have protested over territorial claims in Slovakia, once part of Hungary.

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