News of Volkswagen's major expansion [Volkswagen Bratislava begins major expansion, Vol. 4 # 17, Sept. 7-13] may be seen as good news for Slovakia's embattled economy, but a shiver went down my spine when I read Mr. Holeček's statement that they would like to triple production and make up to 1,000 cars a day at the Bratislava plant.
In my six years in Slovakia, I have witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of cars on the road here, and have seen the gradual erosion of what was (and still is, by British standards) an excellent public transport system. I have seen the streets of Bratislava and Košice become choked, Western-style, by the increase in traffic. I have often been appalled by the nature of the car crashes that happen here. Although Slovakia may never become as car dominated as Britain, where great parts of rural England have been eaten up by new roads and where village buses have become an anachronism, it will lose much of its charm and character as traffic levels grow.
Slavomír Danko's article, entitled "Voter education programs becoming increasingly partisan," (Vol. 4 # 15, August 13-26) was inaccurate (and irresponsible) in several respects. We will address the issues which pertain directly to our organization, Nadácia pre občiansku spoločnost (NOS).
First, NOS is only one of 11 members of a coordinating council for the civic campaign OK '98, and NOS's office acts as 'Secretariat' for the campaign, providing administrative support. NOS did not, as you claim, "kick off" the campaign. OK '98 was 'kicked off', and is directed, by the coordinating council.
Second, the text of your article shows the election-related program which NOS is responsible for, Rock volieb '98, to be non-partisan. However, you insinuate otherwise by the article's headline, as quoted above. Further, you claim in the article that the program is primarily US funded. In fact, most of the funding for the Rock volieb program is not US-based.
NOS has maintained a strictly non-partisan stance in its citizen education efforts. This is not always easy at the current time in Slovakia, when everyone wants to know 'which side you are on'. The Rock volieb campaign has sought to help alleviate this problem by addressing a goal which people from all sides of the political spectrum can support, to build a stronger political voice for Slovakia's youth.
Your newspaper does not help this goal with its sensationalism. While typically a reliable source of news, the Slovak Spectator has on several occasions taken liberties to exaggerate just how divided and polarized Slovak society is. Perhaps this makes for exciting journalism, but it does not make for honest or responsible journalism. Voter education is a sensitive topic, in Slovakia as in many countries, and we therefore request that you make a stronger effort to adhere to unbiased reporting.
Marek Kapusta, Program Coordinator, Rock volieb 98,
[Ed. Note: The article in question looked at Rock volieb in the larger context of Slovak voter education programs, stating that "several of these groups have been accused of trying to shape people's convictions as well as heighten their political awareness." While showing that groups like Gemma '93 and KOZ made no bones about espousing a political viewpoint, the article demonstrated that Kapusta's Rock volieb "has steadfastly refused the offers" of politicians who wanted to conscript the group for their own ends. "We have been declaring our non-partisan orientation since the beginning," the article quoted Kapusta as saying, "and we stand by the promise."]