Bulgarian daily newspaper “ Trud” – September 29, 2003
Serbian Crown Prince Alexander II Karadjordjevic for “TRUD”
I have the deepest respect and admiration for the Tsar
1. Your Highness, you came back to Serbia two years ago. How did you decide to take that step?
It was always my dream to come to the land of my ancestors. Now my family and I live in the Royal Palace the home where my grandfather King Alexander I and my father King Peter II lived. It is wonderful to be home back to one’s roots.
2. What did you do while you were living in exile?
My education was international in Switzerland, the United Sates and the United Kingdom. I earned my living just like anyone else and had the opportunity to learn at lot about business and the world. After leaving the British Military Academy I spent seven years in the British Army which was a great experience. My family had a tradition in the military and my great grandfather King Peter I was a Saint Cyr the French Military Academy. I then entered business and my first job was in advertising and public relations in England, Brazil and the United States. Later on I decided to do banking, construction and shipping. It was great experience and opportunity to develop wonderful contacts globally. I also had to earn my living and pay for the upkeep of my family.
3. Did you have contacts with Serbia during the exile?
My contacts with my homeland during my exile were through friends and travelers. I was an enemy of the state at the ripe age of two according to the decree signed by Tito’s deputy Kardelj so like many my human rights were violated. Contacts with my homeland became most active after 1989 as I also worked intensively with our democrats and I also conducted conferences.
4. What do you do at the moment?
My dream came true to come home in 2001 after working against the regime. I worked for democracy since 1989 and finally after much horror and tragedy I was home with my family soon after our revolution of 5 October 2000. I had traveled to Serbia a few times since 1989 and stood up against the regime. Today I help bring investors and humanitarian aid along with my wife Princess Katherine who has been working so hard to help our people. My relationship with the government is warm and very cordial. The interest for constitutional monarchy is strong so we are very warmly received everywhere and I respect everyone regardless of their political views, religion or ethnic origin.
5. Where do your children live and what do they do?
My son’s home is here in the Palace in Belgrade they come home for holidays. They are finishing their universities and also getting good job experience. We decided in 2001 when we came home that they should finish their universities and get job experience which is very important so that they can be useful.
6. What are your personal connections with top economic circles abroad who are potential investors in Serbia? Do you think your ties could contribute in activating Serbia’s international economic relationships, and general improvement of economic and political situation in Serbia?
My connections are thankfully excellent and very cordial with the international business community. I have on numerous occasions traveled abroad with our ministers to promote investments and partnerships. We are lucky to have excellent ministers who are very well versed in economic matters. I have also hosted meetings with international representatives and our ministers at the Palace to promote economic ties.
7. When you came to Serbia after the fall of Milosevic’s regime you said: “Democracy first, then monarchy”. Does that mean you support monarchy and you will work on it?
I do not wish to ram down the throat of the people the virtues Constitutional Monarchy and what a great solution it will be for my country. There must be no shock treatment, but rather trust and understanding. We came back home to give and not to take. As I mentioned earlier the support and interest for Constitutional Monarchy is strong and the examples we can examine are Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada etc. All these countries are democracies and very stable. So I yes I am working on constitutional monarchy in a calm manner and explaining how Democracy and Constitutional Monarchy work for the best of all citizens regardless of their political views. In a constitutional monarchy the government rules and is elected in free and fair elections. The monarchy reigns and is neutral; it is the meeting point, center of unity and continuity. The monarch is not a member of any political party. In addition I insist that we cannot cleanse history but rather respect it and all citizens.
8. According to some recent surveys of the public opinion, more than half of citizens support monarchy. Is that the result of your activities or a reflexion of people’s disappointment of today’s politicians?
My credit and respect goes to our wonderful people who are truly great and patient and most tolerant after being through extremely tough times. There are of course enormous problems, but together as a united people and country we can conquer everything social, economic and political.
9. It was dissatisfaction with life in poverty and slow reforms that drew the Bulgarians to look for the alternative to the existing political parties at the elections of 2001. That brought our ex-emperor Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to power, after his landslide victory in the elections, when he became the Prime Minister. Have you thought of following his steps?
I have the deepest respect and admiration for the Tsar , his extremely hard work and I have always wished him and the people of Bulgaria all the very best. I know it is the strong desire of my country to have superlative relations both and economic and political with Bulgaria.
I personally do not wish to enter politics I have stated this in the past. I firmly believe in the case of my homeland that I can serve my country better by being neutral as explained in the previous answer.
10. In an interview you once said you had come back to give, not to take. However, you have recently sent a proposal for restitution of the Royal property to the Government of Serbia, which caused various reactions in the public. What were your motives for such a request?
The Royal Palaces in the most European countries are owned by the state, and put at the disposal of the head of the Royal Family. That enables preservation of the Palaces as whole, and estates that have cultural and historical importance everywhere and also avoid applying the Law on inheritance for those estates, and their division and possible sale. Should the sale and break up of the Royal Compound take place and the Palaces become casinos and hotels that would be a national tragedy. In addition all the contents that include paintings and art must stay and not leave the Royal Compound. The people have the right and must for generations to come and enjoy visiting the Royal Compound and both Palaces. It is my duty to make sure that this happens in the interest of the people and that the Royal Compound is not squandered by anyone.
11. The dispute over the property arose with other branches of Yugoslav Royal Family, who deny you the right of the first heir. Would you explain how the things are?
They have no choice if they wish to seriously continue to members of the Royal Family but to respect the family rules established by King Peter I and King Alexander I. The family rules are very clear.
12. Bulgaria returned to Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha the property that used to belong to our Royal Family, and was confiscated after the WW 2. That made our Prime Minister a very wealthy man. Are you going to ask for the entire property of your Royal Family, the part of which is in the territory of other states after the break up of Yugoslavia?
Our legislature has not passed the law on restitution yet. I have made my point clear regarding the Royal Compound that will and must be dealt with by a separate law to preserve it for generations to come as a single entity not to be broken up. The other properties will fall under the restitution law.
13. Do you have any property abroad?
Yes I have.
14. Are you a rich man (financially speaking)?
I am comfortable, but don’t consider myself rich. Since coming back home I have spent a lot of money of my own to fix the Royal Compound. It is a beautiful compound please visit my website www.royalfamily.org to see it.
15. Are you going to stay in Serbia permanently?
Of course I am home.
16. What role do you see for yourself in the future of Serbia and Montenegro?
My role is someone who cares about everyone.
Author: Iveta Stratieva
Copyright © 1998 NJ.K.V. Prestolonaslednik Aleksandar II
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