Some people have decided not to care about politics and I can surely understand them. Others do pay attention and have a kind of patience threshold: the threshold is the point where they can no longer handle the steady stream of various scandals large and small which eat away at their patience. We tend to expect high-calibre individuals in high office, but time after time we are disproved by people like Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dick Chaney, Silvio Berlusconi etc. Still, at one point an article in the newspaper will trigger that (maybe all too familiar) “this is too much!” reflex, and this time, a Croatian diplomat, Ingrid Anticevic Marinovic, was the trigger.
If I was a brilliant engineer, but didn’t know English, I don’t believe I would even get noticed, let alone hired by my employer. I would also not be able to converse with my clients or continuously improve my skills by reading about recent breakthroughs in my field. Even if I was good as an engineer, someone else would have to communicate for me and it would be very difficult for me to keep learning without access to the world’s literature (by and large, in English)…so over time, I might become a mediocre engineer, and finally a rather bad one. Isaac Newton once said “if I have seen further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants”. If you don’t speak the giants’ language, you cannot build on what they build. More to the point, if you visit a Croatian job listings web site, you will likely encounter a solid command of the English language as a prerequisite for any kind of office job. Frankly, given the overwhelming global dominance of English-speaking nations (for better, or, as is more and more the case, for worse…) in culture, politics, economy and military power etc, one would have to live under a rock to avoid hearing English for the last few decades. It takes a lot of inertia to ignore the language in spite of needing it for work and hearing it every day.
Now, there are professions which hinge on excellent communication skills, which critically depend on lingual finesse and which utterly, essentially revolve around the English language, such as international diplomacy. English is by far the most widely used language in EU diplomacy, despite the fact that there are far more native German than English speakers in the EU. Mrs. Anticevic Marinovic is a Croatian representative in the EU Parliament. The video above best illustrates her ability to attend an event with her Parliament colleagues, her ability to frame questions, provide nuanced answers, shape opinions, influence people…things you would imagine a diplomat to be doing.
It is not about the sizeable amount of money she receives every month. It’s not about the special treatment people like her get because they’ve built up credit with their political party. It’s also not about the fact that she would find it practically impossible to get a regular job involving daily communication with foreigners. It is about the fact that all that aside, she can’t possibly do the job well. Her position in Brussels is an insult to every highly educated professional in Croatia who can’t get a job, a disgrace to our country as long as she is its representative and a credible guarantee that we would be unwise to expect exceptional results from our diplomacy: at best, we can hope that not much damage will be done until someone comes along responsible enough to find her a capable replacement.