A sad day for Slovakia's skies
I have dealt with Sky Europe and I can only say they are one of the most professional teams of people I have ever met ["Airports head fired over dual role" by Ed Holt Vol. 7 No 31 August 20-26]. The Slovak aviation industry is in tatters, they are the only country in Europe without a national carrier and each time they get close to launching something it is hacked down by media and politics. This is very sad for the country.
Survey story a misrepresentation
How long has Chris Togneri been in Slovakia and how long has he lived in a Gypsy community? ["Survey: Slovaks still against Roma neighbours" by Chris Togneri Vol. 7 No 31 August 20-26]. And how does he know that Slovak people are more against gypsies than any other European people? Has he ever talked to Gypsies?
Lack of deeper understanding evident
To say that this or that nation is racist and lacks a culture of tolerance sounds very ignorant and suggests the author's lack of deeper understanding of the problem ["Survey: Slovaks still against Roma neighbours" by Chris Togneri Vol. 7 No 31 August 20-26]. Sorry, Mr. Durkovic [who directs the People Against Racism foundation], I don't believe people like you with your organisation are able to do anything but accuse people of being racist and maybe organise concerts and things. With this statement you have identified yourself with the people protesting against globalisation in cities worldwide (not necessarily smashing windows) that do so in spite of the fact they do not know what they are protesting against.
I believe that whites and Gypsies in mixed communities do need help understanding each other and learning how they can live together. This has nothing to do with racism as such, it is a social problem where not only whites, but also the members of Gypsy communities at a certain standard of living do not want to have anything to do with those that are happy to live in those desperate surroundings, and depend on social benefits and other people's work. I believe the sooner we stop talking about racism (and tolerate a certain level of prejudice that exists here as it does anywhere else), and concentrate on the real problems, the greater our chance will be of finding solutions.
Sanchez letter inaccurate and an affront
Regarding the letter written by Philip Sanchez ["Ill-informed travellers a trial of patience", Reader Feedback Vol. 7 No 30, August 13-19], what the writer said is in part correct in that this US couple should have checked beforehand if the Japanese lady would require a transit visa through Slovakia when taking the express Krakow-Budapest train.
However, I don't agree with him whatsoever on the remaining part of his letter. How dare he criticise his imprudent compatriots in this incident for being "arrogant" etc? Being a Japanese freelance journalist accredited to the UN in Vienna and Slovakia since 1992, I can say that I know Slovakia a little bit better as a foreigner in Slovakia.
Regarding this incident, I would like to ask the Slovak border police the following question: Have you authorised a subordinate immigration agent to issue on-the-spot transit visas for a fee? If not, this kind of unhappy incident can occur again, at the cost of gaining Slovakia a bad reputation.
Slovakia, so eager to get access to the West's free, democratic community, still possesses a rigid, authoritarian mentality when it comes to the quality of public service - this is what many westerners would tend to say in the face of this kind of incident.
By the way, Sanchez wrote that "most Japanese need a visa to enter the US". This is not correct. He is ill-informed. The correct information is as follows: most Japanese do not need a visa to enter the US, while those Japanese who want to work or study in the US are required to obtain a special visa or permit, as is the case for all other non-Japanese nationals who intend to stay in US for a longer period. Before sending this letter I confirmed this information with the consular section of the Japanese embassy in Vienna.
1. Sep 2001 at 0:00