Ivica Dacic laid bare the mechanism of political influence over the police and the prosecutor’s office by saying that the only reason Jonuz Musliu won’t be “arrested” is the fact that Aleksandar Vucic “makes sure that his actions don’t cause additional damage or turn Musliu into a victim”. The Serbian foreign minister explained that, “in any country”, because of what he said, Musliu would be questioned by the prosecutor and that what is happening here is not a reflection of “our weakness, but our strength and wisdom to control the situation”. With this, Dacic in fact demonstrated that politics controls the police and the prosecution, which was also evident in numerous other examples, most notably Savamala.
His claim that Musliu would be questioned by the prosecutor in any other country is tragic. Let’s hope that by “any country” he means a country where rule of law applies and where the prosecution and the police are doing their job instead of taking care of international relations, ratings, or threats of demonstrations against some arrest, etc.
This admission of control over the police by executive power took the spotlight off another devastating fact which was evident from this short statement – the minister of foreign affairs claims that, by giving the statement that he did, Musliu has committed a crime (although he didn’t say which one). If political relations were different, he might have called upon the prosecutor and the police to arrest Musliu.
Several months ago, prime minister Vucic thought along the same lines when he said that he won’t “send” the police to assist local authorities with demolishing an illegal building built by a powerful local official because it could “cause a conflict between Orthodox Christians and Muslims”. In this religious segregation of those who violate and defend the law, he omitted the fact that Muamer Zukorlic, who built the illegal building, is a countryman of all those who wanted to legally (and by daylight) demolish the building. Zukorlic then supported Vucic in the elections and we all forgot about illegal buildings.
When it’s convenient for Vucic, even an unspoken threat of ethnic tensions or demonstrations becomes an excuse to suspend the rule of law. It became his hobby and one of his favorite activities. He does this when there’s a chance of scoring some points in Brussels, Berlin, Washington, or purchasing a new coalition partner, while using aggressive media manipulation to present the defeat of the rule of law as the wisdom of a statesman.
However, when the media, the public, his political opponents, protesters are seeking some minister’s resignation, Vucic is determined not to give in to “the street”. When asked what has been going on with the investigation into the identity of the those who ordered the demolition in Hercegovacka street and prevented the police from doing their job – Vucic and his comrades state that it should be left to the prosecutor’s office.
Of course, we are not naïve. We know that (almost) every government is prone to manipulation of the police and the media. However, “in any country” it’s being done secretly, while here the officials brag to their wives or urbi et orbi – to the city and the world – about demolishing the rule of law.
The author is a journalist from Belgrade and associate of Transparency Serbia.
Translated by Marijana Simic