Where are the Slovak-made goods?
I am neither an economist nor a political pundit, but a keen observer of what is happening in Slovakia. Having lived here nearly four years, I have noticed certain trends which trouble me enough to write you. I am concerned by the increasing difficulty I have finding Slovak-made goods in shops. The selection is wider now than it was, but I am bothered by the absence in stores of certain high-quality items which I know Slovakia produces well and cheaply.
I am a runner and recently went to the center of Banská Bystrica to buy "Maratónky," running shoes made in Partizánske that are of comparable quality to most of the imported Adidas, Reeboks and Nikes on sale here. No shop in Banská Bystrica had them, though Reeboks and Nikes were plentiful at 2,000 Sk ($60) a pop. I finally found a pair in Banská Štiavnica. They cost 714 Sk ($21).
A more general example of this problem arose when I was in Poprad with a visitor from Britain. He was surprised by the amount of Western goods in the shops but almost completely frustrated in his wish to find something Slovak-made to take home as a souvenir. I told him Slovakia produces many good things - just that day it seemed none of the shops stocked any of them.
There are bound to be many casualties with economic liberalization, and I'm not pushing for protectionist policies or a "Buy Slovak" campaign. At the same time, it grieves me to see factories closing and shops offering only imported goods, just because Western marketing strategies are more adept. The willy-nilly, foreign-is-better mentality may gratify many of today's nouveau-riche traders and reps from Coca-Cola and McDonald's. But how much does it serve Slovakia's long-term interests? I hear both the factory in Partizánske and the one in Banská Bystrica are under threat of closing. Why should this be when their products are both of good quality and affordable?
Support for banned Greenpeace leader
I read with interest the item "Head of Slovak Greenpeace expelled from Czech Republic," (Issue 17, Oct. 11-24).
Ľubica Trubíniová and several of her Slovak compatriots have been banned from entering the Czech Republic for some time as a penalty for their peaceful demonstration against the completion of a nuclear plant.
Until inherent environmental problems associated with things nuclear - both bombs and energy generation - have been totally solved, citizens must express their views. My letter of concern to the French Embassy in Canada against French nuclear testing is no less urgent than this letter to you.