The Minister of Foreign Affairs did not carry out his own, but rather the foreign policy of the Government, the Democratic Party explains. And according to the State secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this policy will not change. Thus, there are no grounds to remove the Minister of Foreign Affairs from his office. Both standpoints are hard to understand.
Because it is simply not possible, it is pointless to say that the Minister of Foreign Affairs is not responsible for foreign policy. This would mean that the ministers in the current government of Serbia are not responsible for, let’s say, education, economy, finance, justice, and so forth. Moreover, the Prime Minister would not be responsible for government policy. This not only doesn’t make any sense, but it wouldn’t be a good thing if the government, for some reason, functioned in such a way. A minister is a political figure, unlike, for example, a state secretary, and he cannot merely carry out the policy in a non-political way, like a simple clerk in the ministry. Besides, it is totally unimportant whether the policy changes or not. If it doesn’t, and the results are not satisfactory, this literally means that the minister’s policy, namely, his selection of means to fulfill government goals, was erroneous, or at least inefficient.
Naturally, if the policy changes, which is no doubt going to happen, the question remains: who will best be able to formulate and carry out this new policy? If the Minister did not agree with the government policy and advocated for its change, then he could really be the best figure to take over the responsibility for this new policy. If, however, this was not the case, it is most probable that the identification with the policy that is about to be abandoned will be an impediment if the same person is to remain at the head of the ministry.
In a democracy, not only is personal political responsibility quite normal, but it is completely legitimate that a government changes its policy if it realizes that the previous one was unsuccessful, and if it believes citizens no longer support it and will not vote for it in the next elections. Democracy is a system in which citizens and their representatives have the power to change government policy, and even change ministers, prime ministers, and ultimately parties in power. It is precisely the system of individualized responsibility that enables them to do so. The government and ruling parties can, of course, tie their political fate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the unsuccessful foreign policy. If the democratic decision-making system remains in place this usually leads to further failures and, finally, to political changes.
The public often calls for responsibility for the fact that the foreign policy is unpatriotic and defeatist, and its leaders and proponents traitors to the state or national interests. As it often happens, the strongest proponents of patriotic policy and the search for traitors are the ones who are now labeled as traitors and collaborationists. This is a foreseeable outcome of a certain type of ideological competition. Ideological competition for ultimate values cannot but divide people into believers and nonbelievers, or in this case, into patriots and traitors. Thus, it is inevitable that those who were searching for traitorous thoughts in the minds, ideas and politics of other people, will be consequently marked as proponents of traitorous politics, even collaborationists, willing to capitulate.
In democracies however, there is no place for traitors. It is a system which institutionalizes the right to political goals, whichever they might be. Thus, there is no place for unpatriotic politics. It is assumed that the voters known what is in their best interest, and that they have the power to depose their leaders, as well as to change their interests and politics. On the other hand, the stability of a democracy is judged by the degree of the probability that the proponents of one or another patriotic and anti-traitorous policy will be able to win the support of the majority of citizens to curtail or totally abandon the democratic system. Most commonly, the indicator of this probability is the intensity of the conflict within patriotic circles and the frequency of allegations of treason. If this indicator can be applied to Serbia, odds of destabilization are low.
In fact, chances are that the new foreign policy is a popular one and that those who deny this change and wish to absolve the Minister of Foreign Affairs from responsibility for foreign policy which turned out to be a total failure, have made a big error in judgment. It would be democratically responsible behavior if the government thanked the Minister of Foreign Affairs for his work and delegated a new minister to present the new goals and means of foreign policy to the public. And subsequently, stand to be judged by the public and the voters.
Translated by Bojana Obradovic