Recently as I was passing through your town, I stopped briefly for some refreshments at one of your cafes. Imagine my surprise to find a paper with some Slovak writing and a statement in German, which I later discovered was a parking fine. I read neither Slovak nor German.
The area in which I parked (in front of the church) did not display a visible international symbol designating it as a No Parking Area.
The car I drive has Bratislava license plates. I noticed that the girl who was distributing the parking tickets did not place any on Austrian cars.
Austrian people come to Slovakia very frequently to take advantage of lower prices in restaurants, pubs, shops and hair-dressers, to name but a few. I have never noticed Slovak officials fining Austrian cars, even when they were illegally parked! Slovaks consider Austrian citizens and Austria as good neighbors, and treat them accordingly, with politeness and respect. My question is, why are Slovaks not accorded the same courtesies? Do you consider them third class citizens?
I look upon your parking policy as discriminatory against your Slovak neighbors. And the Slovak note, after I had it translated, is nothing less than threatening. This does not bode well for friendly relations between two countries adjacent to each other.
Vienna, being an international city, and Austria, owe the world international considerations, namely, signs in important services must be posted in the three international languages - German, English, and French. Because you have not done that, you have made me feel like a criminal - I broke your law. You have also made me feel that the Austrian people are not as generous as I had always believed them to be until now.
[This letter was originally sent to the mayor of Hainburg, Austria.]
25. Sep 1997 at 0:00