Balkans.Com Business News, 16 February 2010
INTERVIEW: His Royal Highness Crown Prince Alexander II of Serbia - By
Balkans.Com Business News
Royalty paves the road for business in Serbia
You have been like an ambassador for Serbia, travelling to many places
around the world to enhance business ties for Serbia. What are the most
interesting places you have visited, and what has the general response been?
I am delighted to mention that I have received positive interest in Serbia
wherever I have been. Sadly the current global recession has not helped too much
to draw investors, but that does mean that we can not move ahead and plan ahead.
I would say the most interesting places that want to know more about Serbia
are the members of the European Union, Russia, and the United States. In
addition, our government has been very good with incentives for attracting
foreign companies to Serbia since they are treated as Serbian national companies
with free transfer of financial and other assets, a low corporate profit tax of
10%, a low flat income tax rate of 12%, and a ten-year tax holiday for
fixed-asset investments of above $7 million, and the creation of 100 new jobs.
You are called a very ardent defender of democracy and human rights and
your work has been widely recognized. Could you please tell us about the
symposiums that helped to bring democracy to Serbia?
Since 1989 I was glad to make many introductions internationally for our
democratic politicians. My aim was also an important one to unite our democratic
opposition to get rid of the regime. A strong united opposition was very
important. I also convened three conferences one in Budapest at the end of 1999,
Banja Luka in January 2000, and Athens in April 2000. The Athens one was
followed by a symposium at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. The
conferences were very well attended and I convened them using email since the
telephone system in Serbia was at the time very difficult. Attendance and team
working was exceptional and the results were excellent in bringing understanding
and unity among the diverse elements of the democratic opposition, they had to
be prepared for the forthcoming elections. The elections took place in September
2000 and the united opposition won, the regime cancelled the elections just like
they did before with the local elections. Since the democratic opposition was
united thanks to the contributing factor of the conferences the 5 October
revolution was a success. I was glad to have helped finally bring democracy.
Your contacts extend worldwide to the most prominent people in diplomacy,
business and other spheres. How are you using them to promote Serbia?
It is important to help Serbia with global contacts and introductions. Serbia
needs good public relations, a positive image and more business. Serbia has a
lot of natural resources, a solid intelligent workforce and good opportunities
for investment. I believe strongly in bringing investors and businesses to help
the development of the country through new jobs, experience and much needed
capital. I made many meetings and introductions throughout the world to
accomplish this. I have spoken at many events and universities worldwide. I have
also had meetings with many heads of states to foster business relations. In
addition, with the excellent help and knowledge of my daughter Alison, the Greek
– Serbian Partnership conference took place in Athens and that brought Serbia
many investors and interest. It was followed by a conference in London. I
continue to host dinners in London and New York with prominent business people.
I have also used the palace as a meeting and networking place for the benefit
of Serbia, hosting investors and business people. On my 60th birthday I was
pleased to have Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden
(His Majesty is the Head of State of Sweden), His Royal Highness Grand Duke
Henri of Luxembourg (Head of State of Luxembourg), Their Serene Highnesses
Prince Philip-Erasmus and Princess Isabelle of Liechtenstein (His Serene
Highness is the brother His Serene Highness Prince Hans-Adam II the sovereign of
Liechtenstein), Their Royal Highness the Duke and Duchess of Bragança
(Portugal), Her Royal Highness Princess Chantal of France and Baron
Francois-Xavier de Samboucy de Sorgue, Her Royal Highness Princess Katarina and
Mr Desmond de Silva QC (Princess Katarina is the daughter of Prince Tomislav),
Their Royal Highness Prince and Princess Serge (Prince Serge is the son of
Prince (Knez) Alexander Paul), Former President and Mrs FW de Klerk of South
Africa, The Hon Sir David and Lady Gibbons (Sir David is the former Premier of
Bermuda), Lord Janner of Braunstone QC (House of Lords (Labour), United
Kingdom), Lord and Lady Renwick (Lord Renwick House of Lords (Labour), United
Kingdom) and Mr James D. Wolfensohn (Former President of the World Bank) among
many others. This was a great opportunity to show them the opportunities and the
beauty of Serbia.
I cannot tell you the exact figure, but there has been several thousand
business people a year coming to the palace for meetings, receptions or dinner.
It is very important to welcome foreign investors and make them feel
comfortable. A lot of those who came are doing business in the country and some
of them with the local business people we have introduced them to. This makes me
very proud that I was instrumental in bringing serious business and investment
commitments which has also led to more jobs in Serbia.
From thousands of opening ceremonies to London business seminars to a
Greek – Serbian Partnership initiative that is said to have been the catapult
for bringing Greeks to invest in Serbia, to the tens of thousands of business
people you have welcomed in the palace through the many receptions you have
hosted ... How significant were these initiatives in bringing business to
The Greek- Serbian Partnership initiative in Athens was excellent and so was
the conference in London. I would like to see the same initiatives take place in
Frankfurt, Moscow, New York and Tokyo. To continue this type of initiative, I
would also like to see and help as soon as possible put together a group of our
Serbian government experts and our business people as a road show promoting
Serbia to tour all these locations to attract investors to Serbia.
Foreign investment is an important part of developing the economy,
creating more jobs, and increasing incomes. But what is being done about
Education is very important. I created a foundation for higher education and
was very lucky to get over a million euros of scholarships from several
universities for our young men and women. It has been tough getting more
scholarships with the recession. I also founded career centres at our
universities to help our graduates get jobs. I am continuing my effort by
assisting our students' education in different different ways by having their
education paid for, such as through grants. I also believe the annual top
students awards where we have over 500 high school students may help in the
motivation to do better. I appeal to all universities worldwide to help our
students with scholarships. My education foundation and I are always available
to discuss with the universities the opportunities they may have for our
What is your typical day like? Do you live like a king?
The hours are endless because the need is so great. I sometimes do not know
when the night ends and the day begins. I spend every day promoting and helping
for as many hours there are in a day. There are events to attend, interviews to
give, I help my wife get humanitarian aid, many students to get to college, and
hundreds of people to contact a day for further promotion of investment
opportunities. I do not think this is the picture people have of “living like a
king” but I am here to provide unity, continuity and support. I just returned
from a trip to Washington and New York where I attended the Prayer Breakfast
with President Barak Obama and I gave speeches at The Wilson Centre, Georgetown
University and the United States Institute of Peace. I also met many investors
who are interested, but all this needs follow-up to encourage them. I sometimes
wish for longer days to accomplish more, as I know I am following my destiny “to
What is your mission for 2010?
To continue promoting Serbia as a fine place for investment and tourism. To
help create jobs.
Our readers are investors and executives worldwide. What would you like to
say to them?
I would like to point out a few remarkable points that the country has to
further entice your readers to consider Serbia. Besides our various grants and
tax incentives, Serbia has a free-trade agreement with Russia, duty-free access
to over a billion people, over 40% speak English, low overhead costs, and much
more. We have an excellent airline, JAT, for sale and our telecom privatization
is forthcoming as well as many other privatizations. Agriculture is a key
investment area with over 6 million hectares of agricultural land with over
200,000 being organic. Actually, over one third of the world's raspberries come
from Serbia, and it is one of the largest producers of corn in Europe. There are
also many energy possibilities, especially for biomass, and over 300 mineral
springs and thermo mineral water sources for spa and therapeutic facilities.
Please come to Serbia.
We have many opportunities and will continue to recover during 2010.
Serbia's Royal Family
In 1944, King Peter II of Yugoslavia, the firstborn son of King Alexander I
and Queen Maria of Yugoslavia, married Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark,
the daughter of HM King Alexander of the Hellenes and Aspasia Manos. On 17 July
1945, while living in Claridge's Hotel, London, Queen Alexandra gave birth to a
son -- HRH Crown Prince Alexander II of Yugoslavia. Heir to the throne, the
Crown Prince was born on Yugoslav territory as the British government under
Winston Churchill declared hotel suite 212 to be Yugoslav territory. His
Holiness Patriarch Gavrilo of Serbia baptized Alexander in Westminster Abbey.
The newborn's godparents were King George VI and HRH Princess Elizabeth, now HM
Queen Elizabeth II.
In 1991, Crown Prince Alexander II, accompanied by Their Royal Highnesses
Crown Princess Katherine, Hereditary Prince Peter, Prince Philip and Prince
Alexander, travelled to Belgrade where they were enthusiastically received by
hundreds of thousands of people, who saw the Crown Prince as the embodiment of
the best in democracy and constitutional parliamentary monarchy.
Crown Prince Alexander and his family have lived in the Royal Palace in
Belgrade since 2001, continuing their mission to help their Balkan country.
Source: Balkans.com Business News