Interview, DAN Podgorica – 07.01.2003
Your family has been known in our country for the past several years by initiating numerous humanitarian actions. What sort of help is most needed in your homeland?
There is a great need both in Serbia and Montenegro to help the hospitals and many sectors. My wife Katarina founded a foundation to bring as much humanitarian assistance as possible. What is need is new medical equipment as the majority of the current equipment is desperately old and so many are not working. Our doctors and nurses are heroes and have work very hard, but to do their work they need modern equipment and help. Help is also needed for refuges, orphanages and old people. During this interim period whilst the economic situation is being resolved with important reforms the need to assist the National Health system to bridge the gap is vital.
When it comes to help from abroad, what is the best way to be more efficient in providing that kind of help? Is there a chance for Yugoslavia to finally start bringing foreign investments? (Please specify when have you personally helped by your contacts to have such projects realized).
It is important that we become self sufficient and work together to send a signal to the world that we are ready for foreign investors and partners. We are very lucky to have good economic talent and experience in the government, but these government entities cannot function well unless we resolve many issues and send a positive signal abroad that we are a politically stable area with no political problems. We all know that things are relatively calm and we are glad about that, but foreign investors and partners will need a lot more reassuring and convincing to come. In 2003 we have to do our best, but naturally we are affected by the poor global economic climate and the possibility of war in the Middle East so therefore here in our homeland we strongly need unity, more organization and more planning. Our people have been very patient and have been through terrible hardship such as sanctions, bombing and a regime that had interest in only itself and not the people. Our people will only survive through proper economic revival and not have a chance if constant inner fighting and bickering. We have the economic ministerial talent and they just be given a chance.
I assume that you are in touch with Serbs and Montenegrins in Diaspora. Did they ask you to take initiative for obtaining help to our country and does the same happen when you come to Yugoslavia?
Quite honestly the Diaspora has to do much more for the homeland. I have a sad feeling that the Diaspora is loosing interest in the homeland and suffering from inner fighting. Now the time has come to take a very strong interest in our homeland, because we have democracy and an emerging market economy, but on the other hand I understand that the economic situation in the west has deteriorated a lot, however, the investment opportunities are excellent. I have brought potential investors and partners to the homeland and will continue to do so. I have also traveled abroad with our ministers to promote our economic opportunities. All our people abroad have to promote our country globally and its great investment opportunities. Our people should take a moment to find out more about the needs of our country and the opportunities being offered. The government has some fine websites that promote the economic policies and investment opportunities.
With respect for your absence from political statements, standpoints or support for certain political parties, what is your assessment of the new union of Serbia and Montenegro and the fractions inclining towards independence on both sides?
My position is neutral as I am not a politician and nor do I belong to a political party. My purpose is to provide unity, a meeting point and the needed respect for everyone regardless of their political views. Our politicians must skillfully solve all these important issues quickly and cleverly as our people need hope stability and prosperity without loosing any more time. Everyone must be respected and no one must benefit from our political problems. Only our people must benefit from solutions that can only resolved democratically and peacefully.
Did the politicians from Serbia and Montenegro again contact you regarding the establishment of this union and regarding the problems related to the new constitution – the constitutional charter? (you had a unifying and mediatory role a couple of years ago in Greece when you mediated between the Serbian opposition leaders, the present political establishment)
It has been interesting to listen to many politicians, intellectuals and read about the problems related to the union, but I can only be neutral and encourage all sides to resolve all the various issues in the interest of everyone.
Would you, and under which circumstances accept a political engagement?
In a constitutional monarchy the head of state is the monarch and not a politician and this is a very serious and practical solution for all our political problems. All politicians and political parties will benefit from constitutional monarchy. We must remember that constitutional monarchy works very well in the western democracies such as Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and other democracies such as Canada, Australian, Japan and New Zealand. There is no doubt that constitutional monarchy provides stability and continuity and it allows the democratically elected government full power with the prime minister and his cabinet dealing with the affairs of the country.
What is your evaluation of the past year 2002 and what do you expect from the New Year 2003 both on personal and common level and what is your message to the citizens?
I am relieved that we are a democracy, but very concerned about jobs and the economy and the lack of jobs. I am also anxious concerned about our Health Care System, Pensions, Infrastructure and the slow pace of reforms. I admire the great patience of our people and am very sad about all the suffering they have been through and many continue to be deprived. My hope is that we resolve our political problems in 2003 and as soon as possible. I am always ready to serve the people and respect everyone regardless of their political belief or background and fully respecting all religions and ethnic origin.
The following questions are related to your personal life and I hope you would answer them.
Where did the Crown Prince and his immediate family spend the New Years Eve 2003? Where are you going to spend the Christmas and the Orthodox New Year?
We went to Greece to visit for Greek Christmas and New Year the elderly parents of wife who are in their upper eighties. We will be here with the boys in the dvor for our Christmas and New Year. After Christmas we are going to Kopaonik where the boys will snowboard and I will ski. Katarina does not ski, but we are all looking forward to the good air of Kopaonik.
Have you and the members of your family settled the matter of citizenship in our country?
We are grateful it was resolved sometime ago. Katarina, Petar, Filip, Aleksandar and myself are Yugoslav nationals and proud of it.
The matter of return of the property to your family is often a topic in the media. How far has this gone and what exactly has been done by the state?
The family’s private property will be returned according to the law of denationalization.
Is there any possibility for a similar procedure in the former Yugoslav republics, now independent states?
I am certain that everything will be resolved a calmly.
The readers are curious to know more about your sons as well – how old they are, which schools they attend, what are their hobbies, how are they doing with their Serbian language... It would of course be nice to learn the same about your wife.
Katarina is doing well with her Serbian and loves our country very much. She was born in Athens and went to boarding school in Switzerland. She did several university degrees in the United States and was in real estate business there. She works very hard on humanitarian matters and founded her humanitarian foundation in Belgrade in 2001. She loves reading autobiographies, walking, fishing, music and backgammon.
Petar is going to be 23 on 5 February. Along with his brothers he attended private schools in London and outside London. He went to a British University and a University in Spain where he studied art and specialized in graphic design. He also went to an American University on the East Coast where he continued his specialized work on graphic design and he is currently in London continuing his graphic design studies and job experience. He is continuing with his Serbian studies. Petar likes snowboarding, swimming, basketball, music and drawing.
Filip who is the twin of Aleksandar will be 21 on 15 January. After school he went to a London University where he still studying Slavonic Studies and Hispanic Studies. Filip enjoys snowboarding, scuba diving, music and reading. Filip continues with his Serbian language studies.
Aleksandar is of course the fraternal twin of Filip. After school he went to a University on the West Coast of the United states where his majoring in communications and media. He likes surfing, snowboarding, scuba diving, music and reading.
What was your and your family’s first impression when you first came to Yugoslavia and how do you feel during your visits now?
The five of us live in the home of my grandfather King Alexander I and father King Peter I in Dedinje. We are proud to be at home where we belong in our country close to the our people. It was emotional coming back to one’s roots and truly wonderful. We were all deeply impressed to be back home where we belong. We decided that the boys finish their universities and get job experience which is important, but come home for the holidays.
Could you compare London and Belgrade, their advantages and disadvantages? What do Serbia and Montenegro have that UK doesn’t?
Serbia and Montenegro are beautiful and the people are lovely. I am very proud of my Serbian and Montenegrin blood. The advantage is to be home finally after so long and that the dream came true. London is a big city and nice and so is Belgrade, but Belgrade is the capital of our country and home.
How familiar are you with Montenegro and will you visit it soon?
I have been to Montenegro several times including last simmer for the holidays. We loved Montenegro and it is beautiful. We had a wonderful holiday and look very much forward to returning.
Would you be so kind as to point out someone from the history of your dynasty that you might identify with?
King Peter I.
Who has in your opinion permanently marked the history of the Serbian people?
Given that you are related with many European royal families, with whom are you in touch most? Do you have contacts with someone from the Petrovic Njegos dynasty? How intensive are your contacts with other Karadjordjevics?
I have met a few times Prince Nikola and his family in Paris. Members of my family have visited us and stayed with us often in Dedinje. Unity in the family is very important always upholding the family tradition, discipline and rules that our forefathers wisely established.
Copyright © 1998 NJ.K.V. Prestolonaslednik Aleksandar II
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