Monday, June 17, 2002
THE GLOBE AND MAIL (CANADA)
Serbia's Crown Prince makes appeal to Canadians By JANE GADD
MISSISSAUGA -- The man who hopes to be king of the newly minted nation of Serbia and Montenegro is appealing to Canadians to help end the economic isolation of his country and give it a chance to achieve full democracy.
"Come and invest in our country. We are ready for everyone," said Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia, who moved into his ancestors' Belgrade palace last year after a lifetime of exile and dropped into Canada on the weekend to consecrate a new Serbian Orthodox church in Mississauga.
There was no time to meet any business or political figures during his lightning visit, but he issued a plea through an exclusive interview with The Globe and Mail for support for the fresh state that has risen from the bloody ashes of Yugoslavia.
The new government is committed to a market economy, he said, and its cabinet is full of people with business and economics degrees from Harvard and the London School of Economics.
"One thing you cannot do is ransom a country because of one person or a group of persons," Prince Alexander said. "Isolation does not work. Example, Cuba. Example, Iraq."
The debonair product of Swiss and English private schools and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Prince Alexander spent most of his 56 years building a quietly successful life in business with little clue that the nation that ousted his father, King Peter, and abolished the monarchy in 1945 would welcome him back.
After the violent breakup of Yugoslavia under the dictatorship of president Slobodan Milosevic, who was ousted in 2000, opposition parties looked to the exiled Prince as a unifying symbol.
Now the Prince and his wife, Katherine, have repaired the crumbling family abode, launched humanitarian-aid drives and begun beating the international bushes for investment.
Sitting at a flower-strewn table in the Serbian Church hall, they exude charm, humour and friendliness. There is an absence of the haughty formality often associated with the British monarchy, with which the Prince has blood ties.
Although Winston Churchill, as prime minister, went to the trouble of declaring the London hotel room where the Prince was born Yugoslav territory for a day to protect his succession rights, he grew up expecting a life free of royal responsibilities.
He is proud to have worked for a living, had a mortgage and paid phone bills. "The best recipe is to be brought up normally. Then you know what life is about."
Copyright © 1997 Nj.K.V. Princ Aleksandar II