Graffiti nothing to celebrate, as US experience shows
I understand that as a newspaper you strive to 'report' the news first and foremost. There are times, however, that you should show some sort of civic responsibility. This story about graffiti ("Bratislava graffiti artist misses the good olş days," by Matthew J. Reynolds, Vol. 6 No. 26, July 3 to 9) did not offer any sense of criticism for this senseless vandalism; even worse was its simple summary of, rather than criticism of, the inadequate local government response.
In my opinion, that amounts to a tacit approval of the activity. I come from a Slovak background and I'm married to a Slovak citizen. I visited Slovakia last year for the first time and was very impressed by the beauty of its cities and towns, at least from a distance. The most impressive aspect to me was the beautiful old architecture.... until I got into the towns and cities and got a close look.
What I then saw was graffiti everywhere, worse than most places in the US. I expected a higher level of concern for appearance and respect for the property of others. First impressions are important, and if Slovakia wants to attract more foreign investment and tourists, something should be done about this blight. Is there really such apathy among the populace on this issue? That would be hard for me to believe, and I hope that is not case.
Most US cities have set up vigorous clean-up programs and toughened laws. Most importantly though, they have stepped up enforcement and prosecution of 'taggers'. While not eliminating the problem, these measures have drastically improved the situation here. You should consider an editorial opinion piece to jump-start the conscience of citizens (especially the business community) and local government officials.
Restaurant criticism unfair, out of place in Bratislava
I was very surprised to read the letter from Jan Oravetz ("Restaurant service remains poor in Slovakia," Letters to the Editor, Vol 6, No. 26, July 3 to 9) complaining about the Mekong Thai restaurant on Palackého Street in Bratislava. I am a fairly regular customer at The Mekong and have always enjoyed very good service, which, along with the excellent food, makes it one of my favourite restaurants in Bratislava. It is also a restaurant that many of my colleagues frequent and where we often take overseas visitors.
I wonder how many restaurants in the world would be happy not to charge for something you had ordered which you then sent back because you didn't like the look of it (which seems to be the case for Mr Oravetz). I agree that Slovakia certainly has a long way to go in terms of providing decent service (which is why The Mekong is so good in my opinion), but surely for the moment we shouldn't be judging establishments in Bratislava by the standards of North America.
Against jumping to conclusions about Slovak health care
How tragic that Mr. Schuster is so ill so relatively soon after taking office ("Critically ill President moved to Austria," by Tom Nicholson and Daniel Domanovský, Vol. 6 No. 26, July 3 to 9).
I bow to your local knowledge of your health system, but you might like to know that I had a very positive experience of the service in March this year - albeit on a totally different scale. While on a visit to Slovakia I was inveigled into playing soccer after many years' retirement from the sport and happened to suffer a painful wrist injury. Suffice to say that, having arrived at hospital as an 'emergency' on a Saturday evening, I left some 90 minutes later, having been dealt with in a courteous and efficient manner with the affected area suitably plastered, and a bill in the region of Ł20.
I was very impressed indeed, and it may be of interest to you that, in spite of the reputation of the National Health Service in the UK, I would certainly not have received better treatment, and it would undoubtedly have taken much longer.
Small beer, I know, compared to the situation the President is in, but it occurred that you might appreciate a positive comment.
10. Jul 2000 at 0:00