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Volume 406: debated on Friday 23 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the treatment of minorities in Slovakia; and what discussions he has had on the matter with his Slovak counterpart. [114922]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met his Slovak counterpart in February 2003 and discussed the situation of minorities in Slovakia. I have discussed the issue with political leaders in Slovakia both in London and Bratislava. Our Embassy in Bratislava also follows the situation of minorities and discusses that situation with the Slovak authorities. The UK"s EU Action Plan in Slovakia, which was formally launched by the Foreign Secretary in 2002, includes projects in the Roma communities.The European Commission regularly publishes reports on Slovakia"s progress towards EU accession, and runs programmes with the Roma communities as part of Slovakia"s EU pre-accession programme.Slovakia has been found to meet the Copenhagen criteria, which require a state to uphold the basic human rights of all its citizens.