After the accident that happened on the night of March 13/14, and after the open emergency session of the government on March 14, where no relevant information about the event could be found, 48 hours later, on March 16, you prime minister feel compelled to make a public pledge: “I won’t give up ministers Gasic and Loncar.”
Who asked for Gasic and Loncar, prime minister? Why would anyone want them? Who are you even talking to in that manner? Let’s imagine, prime minister, that the results of the two investigations ongoing regarding the fall of the helicopter show that your ministers are partially responsible for the accident. Are you telling us now that you won’t let them be held responsible for their actions? Who are you to decide about that? Are there institutions in this country that can act outside your will? The courts, for example?
Not only you won’t give them up, you say that you would have done the same: “I see that there is a witch hunt against minister Gasic and minister Loncar, who wanted to save a child… I’ll take all the responsibility; if they had asked me, and they didn’t, I would have told them: ‘Go and save that child’”. Your remark is correct, nobody asked you anything. Because they shouldn’t have asked you. You’re not supposed to decide about that, and neither should the ministers. And if they did, they must be held accountable for their decisions.
If you would have decided the same in their position, it’s not good. And here’s why: there are a lot of unclear things about that accident. And some things that were said are apparently not true or, to put it bluntly – somebody is lying, prime minister.
First: the fact that the baby had respiratory issues and had to be taken to some major clinical center, as your minister of health Loncar explained, doesn’t imply that the baby had to end up in Belgrade. There are major centers in Nis and Kragujevac as well.
Second: even though Kraljevo traffic police claims that there were no alternative routes on the part of the road between Raska and Kraljevo which was covered in an avalanche, reports state that the ambulance managed to return to Raska. There are at least two more roads from Raska to Kraljevo, besides Ibarska road.
Third: the media reports that the weather worsened when the helicopter was above Mladenovac on its way back, which would seem to imply that bad flying conditions were not already expected. This is not true. As early as 21:15, before the helicopter even took off from Raska, the conditions were known to be extremely poor.
Fourth: according to Air Serbia’s statement, three flights – from Milan, Zurich and Brussels – were diverted from Belgrade Airport and had to land in Timisoara, because of the crash of a military helicopter on our airport. The manager of corporate affairs, Maja Gedosev, told Tanjug News Agency that. The news report does not mention when this happened. According to the flight logs of that night, the planes began to circle Belgrade Airport around 10 pm, and were redirected towards Timisoara some 20 minutes later. This means that the airport staff knew there was a possibility an accident would happen as early as 10 pm, and when the planes were sent to Timisoara, around 10:45, the accident had, as Gedosev says, already happened. The news of the helicopter’s landing was released around 11 pm, even though there were reporters at the airport and the airport staff already knew that the helicopter had crashed.
Prime minister, instead of protecting your colleagues at any cost, you would be much better off not giving statements and allowing the investigation to find out: who decided to send the helicopter to Raska and why – if the baby was primarily sent to Kraljevo or Kragujevac and if it could have been transported by another route to Kraljevo or Kragujevac? Who decided that the helicopter should bring the baby to Belgrade? Who decided that the helicopter must land at the Belgrade airport, even though it was clear at 9 pm that it might not be possible?
This is not about anyone’s humanness or willingness to save the life of a baby. We are talking about a possible conscious decision to jeopardize the life of the baby and the lives of the doctors and pilots accompanying it for no apparent reason, which resulted in fatal consequences for all of them, as we saw on the (belated) news. And on March 16, you tell us that you would have done the same.
Instead of threats and pulling tycoon Miskovic out of your magician’s hat for the umpteenth time, waiving him around and scaring or entertaining the audience, it would be better for you to think about what really happened on the night of March 13 and whether it was really inevitable. We are not talking about falsified doctorates here, when you made an ad hoc decision and declared anyone who disagrees with you a public enemy. This is about human lives. It is a disgrace that you’re protecting in advance the people who should explain what happened on that night, by your rash statements. As long as you shout and accuse everyone around you, instead of following the rules that are the same for all Serbian citizens, you, prime minister, are also a threat to the lives of your fellow citizens. Shame on you.
Translated by Marijana Simic
Dejan Ilić (1965, Zemun), urednik izdavačke kuće FABRIKA KNJIGA i časopisa REČ. Diplomirao je na Filološkom fakultetu u Beogradu, magistrirao na Programu za studije roda i kulture na Centralnoevropskom univerzitetu u Budimpešti i doktorirao na istom univerzitetu na Odseku za rodne studije. Objavio je zbirke eseja „Osam i po ogleda iz razumevanja“ (2008), „Tranziciona pravda i tumačenje književnosti: srpski primer“ (2011), „Škola za 'petparačke' priče: predlozi za drugačiji kurikulum“ (2016) i „Dva lica patriotizma“ (2016).