Just like in that children’s story in which a boy, when his mom does not allow him to go out alone, angrily retorts that he is old enough, and when sent out to do something, he cries that he is too little for the task – our politicians, when it suits them, call upon their public functions, moreover portraying accusations against them as attacks on the state, and when it does not suit them, they start claiming it is intrusion into their “private affairs”.
And so the Prime Minister and his party announced the reason for their impromptu press conference: the media coverage of the Prime Minister; then the Prime Minister, having first explained that the attacks on him are attacks on the reputation of the Government and the function of Prime Minister, questioned by the press about his alleged contacts with a drug lord, responds that they had met – but as private citizens!? Aside from the fact that the public didn’t find out about the nature of these private meetings, it remains unclear how exactly at that point in time he ceased to be the Prime Minister, that is, the Minister of Interior?
When do state officials cease to be government officials and become ordinary citizens?
Another state official, this time the President of Serbia, after first publicly, in front of cameras, complaining about the meeting between the Croatian and Serbian Prime Ministers, at which he was not “honored” as the President, or as he referred to himself: a symbol of national unity – immediately thereafter reported to the Anticorruption Agency a private gift from a private person. The Agency responded that it will investigate to see if the Audi he received was given to him as the President or as a private citizen!? How exactly does one determine when the president is the President, and when he is not?
Does a public official cease to be one just because his workday is over, and after five o’clock he becomes an “unofficial”? A suit and tie are certainly not a criterion since many, particularly after rapidly developing biceps, like to appear in public wearing close-fitting t-shirts. Appearing in public without an official state car and police escort could again not be a valid reference point, as it can nicely be seen that these are accompanying details during every political party meeting or celebration. (This is why it is particularly surprising that someone would decide to give the President, who will be chauffeured until the end of his term, a used car?)
So how do we know, when Dacic sings in public, if he is doing it as a Prime Minister or as a citizen? If we were to ask him, he would of course say that he sings as a nightingale. And how do we know if, when driving in a car, Nikolic feels like a President or an ordinary citizen? If we were to ask him, he would respond that, when driving, he feels like Fangio.
So how can we tell? When Palma pays bail for individuals charged with fraud in Kolubara, he is doing this as an ordinary citizen; when somebody hits Velimir Ilic he is attacking a state official, and when Velimir Ilic hits someone, he does it as a private citizen; when Vuk Jeremic as a UN senior official breaks tables in a New York bar, he is… a Serb?!
It is important to know if a state official can occasionally cease to be one – that is, when a state official is a state official, and when he is only a citizen. If for no other reason, then because of potential for litigation. No, I am not thinking of taking them to court, God forbid that we should even think of such a thing, but rather their lawsuits against us. Because if we offend a government official, we better be able to show that he was at that very moment only an ordinary citizen – otherwise we’re in trouble. Though we may be in trouble anyway, with or without a lawsuit.