As soon as the announcement came last month that foreigners were wanted in the new flip-flopped Serbian government, I was on alert. Surely the call would come from Aleksandar Vučić asking me to take over a few portfolios. Not too many, enough to keep me occupied a couple days a week.
But the call never came. I should get my phone serviced.
You can understand my surprise. After all, I have always demonstrated the GREATEST respect for the leaders who have navigated the transition with the grim determination of a lemon peel floating down the Danube. The archives of this blog demonstrate my UNWAVERING support and encouragement to boneheaded decisions, wild ideas and public statements, and the generally farcical behavior which constitutes the backbone (or lack thereof) of a career in the Serbian government.
After all, without it, I would have nothing to write about.
In retrospect, I suppose my chances were hampered by a few different factors. The finance post was closed to me because I have already passed through puberty. The position of high advisor was also nixed since I have never been accused of or brought up on charges for prostitution or pimping (although I do speak French).
Culture would have been a nice portfolio, I suppose, but I do not have enough hair.
The idea of opening the ministerial field to foreigners was an interesting play, however. A lot of us foreigners who have been in Belgrade for much longer than would seem immediately necessary were given pause to speculate and wonder. We, the foreign residents of Belgrade, constitute a disenfranchised group - we cannot vote, we cannot get one of the cheap phones that VIP offers, and we are continually overcharged for everything from taxis to potatoes. We could even become a political party or qualify for European inclusion projects.
Having a foreigner in charge would also have been a great fall-back position for Mr. Vucic - we make the unpopular moves, and he could shrug his shoulders and say, "You know, he's a foreigner, he's not from here, he doesn't get it." The other advantage of having a non-native minister is that official translators could become the new policy shapers and king-makers.
In the end, none of the nine new guys are even remotely foreign. The invitation to join the government turned out to be an empty promise. We got all geared up, shuffling our schedules to make room for the occasional cabinet meeting, composed wish-lists of laws to change, picked out countries against whom to wage war, and bought a new suit or two - and then nothing.
It is like being uninvited to a birthday party. What do you do with the gifts you intended to bring?