The Emporers New Clothes, Wile E. Coyote or don’t look down Mr. High Reprsentative

In a recent blog, Srecko Latal describes Miroslav Lajcak as an emperor without clothes. This is indeed a fitting metaphor which I have used to describe the OHR for a number of years. He praises Lajcak’s honesty for admitting that he is indeed without clothes during an interview and contrasts it with his previous diplomatic talk and his predecessors. However, is such openness a good thing?

To many, Lajcak has clearly expressed his frustration about the lack of backing his office has received from the EU already for quite a while.  In fact, saying that one has no powers is not always helpful. He has acted on a number of occasions (such as with the imposition of parliamentary and government voting rules in late 2007) in a manner which were bound to weaken the perceived power of the OHR. More importantly, the Bonn powers of the OHR always rested on the perception of power, much more than on their reality. Imposing laws and decisions, dismissing officials only works if those affected take it seriously. While Poplasen stayed in his presidential office in 1999 even after he was dismissed by HR Westendorp, he was no longer the president of the RS. However, this is effective if there is coercive power or at least its perception to back up the decision (which there is no longer) and if there is the perception that the decision is final and effective.  By saying that one no longer has the backing and power, the ones on the receiving end are not likely to be impressed.

In the story of H.C. Andersen, the emperor, tricked by the sellers of the imaginary cloth is confronted by the child which says “But he has nothing on at all.” What is his reaction?

“That made a deep impression upon the emperor, for it seemed to him that they were right; but he thought to himself, “Now I must bear up to the end.” And the chamberlains walked with still greater dignity, as if they carried the train which did not exist.”

Maybe it is wiser to end the procession with dignity to the end and then figure out what to do next. To use a different metaphor, Wile E. Coyote only falls down once he looks down. It is thus not (only) gravity which causes his fall, but also is recognition that laws of gravity will apply.  So before the laws of gravity also start applying to the OHR, it might be best not to look down… yet.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: