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Slovak winemakers can use the term "Tokaj" again

Wine-makers from southeastern Slovakia are to be allowed to use the name "Tokaj" again, an issue that has long been subject to a dispute with neighbouring Hungary. On Tuesday, April 27, members of parliament supported the cabinet's draft amendment to the Act on Viniculture proposed by the Agriculture Ministry in a fast-tracked legislative procedure.

Providing the president signs it, the amended bill will take effect on June 1. The amendment means that Slovakia will adopt the European format for labelling wines, which means it will stop dividing wines into categories of table wine and vintage wine, the SITA newswire wrote. The new categorisation emphasises geographical labelling. Slovak wine regions will be divided into the following areas: Malokarpatská (Small Carpathians region), Južnoslovenská (southern Slovak), Stredoslovenská (central Slovak), Nitrianska (Nitra), Východoslovenská (eastern Slovak) and Tokaj.

The present dispute arose in July 2009 after Hungary, despite an agreement that every change in legislation affecting the shared wine region would first be consulted with the other country, unexpectedly changed the agreed-upon term Tokaji to Tokaj in its legislation. Hungary also asked the European Commission for registration of Tokaj as a protected designation of origin.

On December 1, 2009, the commission published Hungary’s proposal in the EU Journal. Slovakia had previously asked to register the term Tokaj, but the request had been rejected by the European Commission. The publication of the Hungarian proposal in the journal triggered a two-month time-limit within which Slovakia was permitted to comment on the application.

The Slovak Agriculture Ministry sent a letter to European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Mariann Fischer Boel, whom it asked for help in resolving "the never-ending story of the Tokaj area", as the case was dubbed by Agriculture Minister Vladimír Chovan. State Secretary of the Agriculture Ministry Ján Slabý negotiated on the matter with Brussels and it was finally agreed that the labelling “Tokaj wine area” would registered for Slovakia.

Source: SITA

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports

28 Apr 2010

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