Harsh words from Brussels on the account of corruption in Serbia have been following us for years, and it will be the same in the future, even when we enter the European Union. But the worst thing we could do is get used to it, to get used to the constant reminder – you haven’t done enough to fight corruption yet.
It is an insidious disease, you cannot accurately measure its level in the bloodstream of society, it is difficult to prove in court, it is everywhere, no one is immune to it, and there is no simple cure. The European Commission reminds of all that, for who knows how many times, in the annual Progress Report, and not only reminds, but asks for the fight to intensify. If we want to make progress at all.
In the past year, we have made, they say, “limited progress”, just like last year, as well as the year before last… We are still far from a satisfied face of European bureaucrats. In fact, they will never say that they are satisfied, but one day we will pass the exam, when they will certify that the level of corruption in Serbia is low enough not to endanger or destroy the rule of law and a healthy economic system.
How many more such reports will we look at and how long will we accept the fact that corruption is one of the biggest obstacles to Serbia becoming an orderly and developed state? President Vučić announces that it does not have to be a long wait. Regarding the formation of the Government, he says that there has been a lot of corruption so far, that many in the government have done badly or not at all, which is why they will be replaced.
It sounds encouraging, but is it a punishment enough for a corrupt government official, minister, director of a public company, official, to lose his high position? And should that be his only punishment?! And what is even more important, will they be held accountable for their corruption under the laws, which the EU says are not bad? In the end, will the European Commission start to write more favorable reports when the corrupt ones are “only” replaced?
Outbursts of anger at Euro-bureaucrats for telling us this year also that corruption is still the weakest point in our country are meaningless. They say the same thing as President Vučić – corruption is widespread, and it is also present at the highest levels of government. That corrupt kind is the reason why, year after year, like a bad dream, our diagnosis and lessons are repeated through the Progress Report. The reason is, of course, that they do not bear the consequences, not only political, through expulsion from the government or removal from some other public function, but also criminal ones.
These are people who swim from year to year at the very top of the wave of popularity, not their own, but Vučić’s, and in turn leave behind a dirty trail of corruption, which they are convinced will never be punished. So far, they were right, because the European Commission also considers Serbia to have an ever-decreasing number of completed processes against the so-called high corruption.
It will be a spectacular sensation in Serbia when (or if) someone from the ranks of high-ranking SNS officials is arrested for corruption, although that should be something quite expected. Expected, because both the EU and President Vučić are talking about high corruption. Is, perhaps, everyone at the top of the ruling party without sin, and is it actually their president who is wrong when he talks about corruption at the top of the government? It is not like that. Rather, they have found or inherited a model of existing as parasites on the enormous popularity of their leader, which guarantees longevity in high state positions, and that already creates a feeling of being untouchable and almighty, above the law, first of all. They created a strong feeling that their interests are above all, that they are worth of even slowing down Serbia’s path to the EU.
Everything opposite of the policy their president and the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić stands for, promotes and leads every God-given day. While he has been building relations with the EU and America with great difficulty for years, individuals from his ranks are demolishing that construction like dominoes, like Skadar on the Bojana River. When the day comes for the publication of the EU Report, with all the harsh words about corruption, Vučić, I am convinced, looks as if he is chasing his own tail. And he can rightly question himself – why am I doing all this?
He may have already given an answer to this question recently in a German newspaper, when he said that we touched on corruption, but that “we did not hit it on the head, which people expect from us”. Although it remained unclear why its head remained intact.
Every next day that Vučić and we, together with him, will spend, either with corrupt ministers in the government, or with corrupt ministers before the court is important. The right choice will bring us money, a sense of justice and progress, and for Vučić a hope that he will realize his state ambition to make Serbia an orderly – and decent place to live.