CROWN PRINCESS KATHERINE'S INTERVIEW FOR "PRAVDA" DAILY, 1 March
tired of promises
- Serbs have
gone through a very rough period: war, behind them is war, big crisis, the
employment rate in the country that is still low, many have lost their loved
ones... All that is behind them and has left deep scars. That is why my
motive to help the Serbs is more than clear - said Crown Princess Katherine
Karadjordjevic in an interview for Pravda daily.
How come a Greek
woman, who married Alexander Karadjordjevic and became a Serbian Princess -
has the need to do so much for the Serbian people?
-When I got
attached to Alexander, I knew that I, at the same time, had made a
commitment to his people as well. His destiny is to be always close to his
people. That is his obligation, which he had made very clear both to me and
to his sons. When war started in this region, he came to me and said: "I
don't know what will happen to us, whether we will return to Serbia and what
the future will have in store for us, but I know that my people need me now.
That is why we must work as much as possible for the people during this
conflict. If we ever return, I want to know that I am able to look them
straight in the eyes and say that I have done everything in my power to help
them". That was the most important thing to him - to help the people and to
show them that he had not forgotten them.
How much were
you influenced by your origin and upbringing?
- A lot. I have
grown up in a family in which philanthropy was something like oxygen. To me,
to my father and to my mother who raised me. Two months ago, my father, at
the age of 92, was awarded by the Greek Government for his charitable
activities. In Serbia there is a saying similar to the one - like father,
like son. The philanthropists that my father and mother were, and that they
still are, have taught me to breathe by helping others. Everyone in the
world must know that charitable work is learned. And all lessons are the
easiest to learn when one is young, and so one should not wait to grow up in
order to learn to help others.
touched by your reaction when little Dijana needed an urgent heart
operation, that resulted in you bringing the world famous doctor Kalangos so
that he could operate on her heart. Knowing you, I suppose that you, having
heard of Dijana's case, picked up the phone and called Kalangos and said:
"Doctor, I need you right here, right now"?
- You are right,
it was just like that. Basically, on the Christmas day, when I visited the
hospital in Tirsova Street and saw Dijana who had two or three weeks left to
live, when I saw her mother sitting in the corner of the room, by the bed
and crying, I felt like her mother. I didn't care about her last name, her
origin, anything. And trust me, nothing would have prevented me from helping
her. Nothing. Nobody. I called doctor Kalangos and told him: "Doctor, you
are so far away, and I need you here". He then promised that he would come
and help little Dijana in a few days. I was happy to hear that and I left
for Italy with my husband. And then, one day, I got a call from the hospital
in Tirsova Street. Doctor Ida Jovanovic told me then: "We know that the
doctor will come to our clinic tomorrow to operate on little Dijana. But, I
fear it will be too late. Either he will get here today, or he will have
nobody to operate on". That terrified me and I told my husband that the
visit to Italy was at that moment completely irrelevant to me, I called
Kalangos and asked him: "Where are you?" He replied that he was abroad,
operating. I asked him if any of his little patients were in a life
threatening situation, and he said - none of them. "Well, doctor", I told
him, "in Belgrade the life of little Dijana is at stake". Doctor Kalangos
told me that he could come only with a private jet, and I told him: "Not to
worry, the plane is on its way already". You know, when you take upon
yourself the commitment to save someone's life, there is nothing more
important. I called up my friends who own private airplanes and asked them
“Have you ever been in a situation to save someone's life? If you have not,
I will give you an opportunity to do it!“ One of them, secured the aircraft
and within an hour doctor Kalangos was on his way to Belgrade, and landed
soon after in our capital. I also called Dijana's mother and told her that I
have made a promise to save her child, and that I am going to keep that
How is Dijana
- Excellent. She
was recently at our Palace, she had completely recovered, and today she does
what all children do - she is living a normal and happy life of a normal,
healthy child. This tells us that, if we wish to achieve something, we need
to make a small extra effort, and to treat the people around us like our
dearest ones. We are all God's children. Don't be indifferent. Do it, don’t
think, just do it.
What does it
mean to be a Princess in Serbia?
-It means that
you have a huge chance and that you have to work very, very hard, and very
much. God has blessed me with a position that I can do a lot, but had I not
been raised the way I was raised by my parents - the title by itself would
not have been enough. That is why I am grateful to my parents for the
upbringing they gave me, to Alexander for bringing me here and to the
Serbian people for giving me a chance to help them.
Do Serbs know
how much you and the Crown Prince have done for your homeland so far?
- We are
typical Serbs. When I say we, I mean the two of us. And when I say typical,
I mean that we are not good in lobbying for ourselves. We both feel as
parents in Serbia. And parents do not
shout from the
about what they have done for their children.
devote every second of our time to helping Serbs have a more normal life, a
better life. Every day, even now
while we are talking,
Alexander spends his time thinking how
bring more investors to Serbia, how
how the youth - in which he rests all his hopes - can
good careers in their homeland…. You know, I have always loved him, and as
time passes by, I love him truly even more, because I see how much he is
working for this country and his people, not thinking about himself, not for
a moment. I wish Serbs would get a chance to know him as well as I do,
better what he has done for his homeland and the people in it.
would you briefly describe him?
- He is a man
of peace and good will. He does not have a single
of bad blood within himself and the politicians of this country should see
this. I know for a fact that many investors had come to Serbia only because
of Crown Prince Alexander. I know, because I spoke to them personally. His
contribution simply can not be measured. I know that we will work even more
so that the people in this country can see that we are working in their
You say that
you will demonstrate with deeds, not words, the things that could be
- I think that
people are tired of promises. They are especially tired of promises from
abroad. This country has been misunderstood so many times. My husband works
very hard to erase those stereotypes about Serbs, that bad image we have
worldwide, that is haunting us. The classic example for that is the Kosovo
story. The same moment Kosovo separated, the media worldwide have broadcast
the old story as Serbs being the bad guys. You know, we are a strong nation,
but we are also a nation that has been pressured a lot. Enough is enough.
Enough! The world must know that Serbs are a nation just like any other in
the world: a nation that deserves happiness, prosperity.
I know that the
Crown Prince had very emotionally taken the unilateral declaration of
independence of Kosovo. How did you take it?
- I still feel
torn apart! It was as if someone had taken out my heart, or pulled out my
arm, or some vital body part. How many times do we need to say that it is
our Jerusalem? It is so hard for me that the world did not understand this.
You cannot take
a thousand years away from us! Regardless of the fact who lives in Kosovo
now, you cannot do it. Look, for example, at America - Florida, for
Americans live there.
Serbs have been
living in Kosovo for centuries. I could not believe that someone could be so
cruel and pull out
heart. Both Alexander and I are shocked.
very proud of
all those young people who protested with dignity and peacefully at the
rally. But, unfortunately, I heard almost nobody in the world speak about
the peaceful demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of people - and not
just the violence. These are double standards towards Serbs. Why?
Why cannot we
talk about these good things?
Why do we
always refer to Serbs as the bad guys? I am not
I am just a humanitarian, but I think there has been enough
country cannot be constantly blackmailed for two men that have not been
found and arrested. Iraq and Afghanistan have not
The world must let us build our democracy and economy. They can not push us
down all the time. That will not bring any good. The carrot and stick
principle has to stop. We must be treated like any other country.
women and children
- Since we have
cervical and breast cancer cases in Europe, at the Clinical Centre we
be working on a programme to reduce these illnesses, in cooperation with the
Sloan Kettering clinic from New York. The illnesses can be reduced simply by
prevention - by medical check-ups.
that, we are also working on a programme to create a Bone Marrow Bank, that
does not exist in Serbia, and is needed for treating leukemia and similar
illnesses. We must also dedicate our attention to the paliative care in
Serbia - people who have a fatal disease deserve
the very end. I am also working on a project regarding helping under age
mothers. There is also a project that is not so much humanitarian as it is
entrepreneurial: if women entrepreneurs in Serbia have a good idea but lack
the finances, the organisation I cooperate with is there to help them. You
know, women in this country are heroes and we must help them more than
integrity, ideas. Perhaps
them a future leader of this country
is to be found.
A lot of work
- After the
problems that Dijana had, I understood that one can not play with heart. If
you must react, you must do so immediately. That is why in Geneva we are
launching a charity project with doctor Kalangos so that we can build a
Centre in Tirsova
that would deal with those kinds of problems, and the doctors that will be
operating in Belgrade will be trained by this expert in Switzerland. That
will be the only Centre in the Balkans
serious heart problems in children. The Government cannot send children
abroad all the time for things like that. Simply, there is not enough money.
in the next
We are always
there for our people
At this moment,
Kosovo is permanently on my mind. We will soon go there again and deliver a
humanitarian donation and an ambulance vehicle. I want them to know that we
never turn our backs on them, and that they will never be forgotten. The
Karadjordjevics will always think of them and help them.
This woman of a
big heart does not care too much if the media are following her every step.
She is always ahead. It is the only way she can help those who need help. It
is the only way she can save lives.