HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER II
FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE
The Diaspora should have the right to vote on condition the Serbs outside have citizenship. However I do not recommend the right to representation. We are a sovereign country and it is up to the voters to decide who their representatives are, but from the constituencies in the country. So, from the regions in the country, not outside Serbia
It is probably a coincidence that Crown Prince Alexander II Karadjordjevic decided to reply only the question about disunity of the Serbs (both outside and in Serbia) in Serbia, showing us all that although he is still learning it, he has a good awareness of the language of our forefathers. For, disunity, is, apparently, more suitable in Serbian. All other problems of the Diaspora and Serbia were discussed in clear English, at the King’s Office of The Royal Palace in Dedinje. It is a white marble (from Brac) mansion, built by His Majesty King Alexander I – the grandfather of Prince Alexander II – with his private funds. The Crown Prince and his family have been living there since the summer of 2001, and only ten years ago, he stepped on Serbian soil for the first time. If we don’t count his birth at the Claridge’s suit, which for that occasion was proclaimed Yugoslav territory by the Prime Minister Winston Churchill, so that Prince Alexander II would have the right to the throne.
While the discussions on possible reestablishment of the constitutional parliamentary monarchy are still in progress, Prince Alexander talks to NIN about the problems of Serbian Diaspora, to which until only recently he used to belong.
Your Royal Highness, considering that you spent a large part of your life in exile, how do you see the relationship between the homeland and the Diaspora? What communication with Serbia did the Diaspora have while you were out of the homeland, and what is that communication like today?
- While I was in exile, the communication between the Diaspora and our country was different at different moments. In addition, we have to have in mind different types of emigration from our country. For example, there is political emigration, then economic, but also a combination of the two. If you look at the situation in the Diaspora after the WW 2, until 1989, I can say I had a lot of contacts with those people, and I think some of them were in contact with the homeland, and others were not, although they all wanted to have contact with the homeland. But, because of the then government, they couldn’t. So, the question of how the Diaspora kept in touch with the homeland, including their relatives here – is a very delicate one. After 1989 things took a different course. There was a new hope for opening, and the entire Diaspora gained a brand new view of what was going on in the homeland. Of course, the cunning regime that ruled Serbia at that time, used to try to recruit the Diaspora. Regrettably, in the final outcome, people got hurt because nothing really changed much. Some brave individuals told they would invest their money here, but even them had problems. A large part of our working force was still abroad. So we had to wait for another great event in our country which was 5 October 2000. After we paid the price of sanctions, isolation and of course the criminal aggression. But it is my belief that all people in the Diaspora, from all its segments, are very tied to our country.
Today, when you are here, in your country, are you in touch with the Diaspora? What do the Serbs who are out of Serbia expect from their homeland?
- The Diaspora wants to help, but in a way, they don’t know how. There are many successful and homesick people in the Diaspora. There are many Serbs who have very good connections throughout this planet. I am convinced they want to help in our efforts to build democracy. Either by investing directly into our country, or by gathering people whom they know, to come to and invest in Serbia. But our people abroad are not sure what methods and techniques are at their disposal. That requires further efforts, also from our Government, to carry out the whole project. The point is that everybody should work together for the well being of our country, regardless of their political affiliations. But that means good organization and planning.
The Serbs abroad often like to say that the Diaspora is just like the homeland. And that it is disunited because Serbian state is no better. What do you think?
- It is true that the situation in the Diaspora is very much like the one in the homeland. There are many organizations, associations, clubs... which is a good thing. But many people in the Diaspora and in the homeland are working against themselves, against the national interest. The aim of all those clubs and organizations is to help Serbia, because they care for their homeland. However, there is no real contact between the Diaspora and the homeland, and although an Agency for the Diaspora has been established, I haven’t heard that it works. This Agency should have a secretary, publications, it should have funds to pay phone bills... I have no information about it, neither from the Parliament nor from the Government. That was a good idea, but now we must wait for it to be carried out.
How much did the Diaspora and its relationship with people in Serbia help in your returning to the country?
- The relationships between the Diaspora and the homeland were very important in my coming back home. I had meetings with the representatives of many organizations abroad and the very fact that they showed interest in my return, and that we talked about it, was a great moral support to me. There are several organizations in the West, in the countries like America, Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and others, that supported me significantly in returning to my roots, for they too had a hope to return to their roots. You know, we have a large number of people in the Diaspora, about three million of Serbs all over the planet. And they all feel for their homeland and they all want to come back to their homeland at some point. I hope they gained a new hope when they saw that I returned.
What is your attitude on including the Serbs from abroad in the political life of the homeland? The Diaspora wants the right to vote, a Ministry of Diaspora, and several guaranteed seats in the Parliament?
- Of course, I fully believe in the democratic process, but I have to take a stand that might seem harsh to some people. Above all, the Diaspora has the right to vote on condition the Serbs outside Serbia have the citizenship. And to have a good registration system that would be accurate, having in mind the experiences of other countries. That means new legislation that would be brought by our Parliament, and that has to be done in full. However, I do not recommend the right to representation. We are a sovereign country and it is up to the voters to decide who their representatives are, but from the constituencies in the country. So, from the regions in the country, not outside Serbia. The Serbs from the homeland and from the Diaspora should vote for the candidates from the constituencies in Serbia. I believe it is quite a normal recommendation and I suggest it should be discussed. Also, the issue of voters registration would be solved much more efficiently if they voted in the Embassies and consulates.
Do you have knowledge of the attitude of the Serbs from the Diaspora on the initiative to reestablish Serbian state as a parliamentary monarchy?
- There is interest to reestablish constitutional parliamentary monarchy both in the country and abroad. As for the Diaspora, many of our people have been living in constitutional parliamentary monarchies for decades. In Sweden, Great Britain, Canada, Australia,... they have a first hand experience and know very well how much this system is democratic. As for the homeland, there is interest, but there is also the need to learn what this is all about. Is the system democratic, how does it function in other countries, are there elections, who runs the country, who doesn’t. For example, in a constitutional parliamentary monarchy the King is head of the state, but the country is run by the Government. There is also a need both in the Diaspora and in the homeland to learn more how the whole thing works. To learn that the monarch is not a member of any political party. The Diaspora knows how that functions, but it is up to us to inform the people in the country.
Did the DOS government made any progress in establishing a better cooperation between the homeland and the Diaspora, or the Serbs who live abroad have the right to be disappointed in the Government after 5 October?
- The fifth of October is by all means an important date in our history. Having in mind the tremendous problems and sufferings, and we had dictatorship, cunning regime, sanctions, isolation, aggression against Serbian people, you can easily imagine how difficult it was for the new Government was to face all those problems. The Diaspora has strong feelings for the homeland and they were hurt by all that had happened here in the same way the citizens of Serbia were. But to make changes in three years and several months – requires a lot of hard work. I have noticed more visits from the Diaspora people to their relatives in the country. The Diaspora has also noted progress in carrying out the democratic principles in the country. By all means returning of the right to vote would be the most important step in connecting the homeland and the Diaspora. What should be done in 2004 to improve the relationships is a great task. We can’t allow to work against each other. And what we can offer to everybody is to work together for the general welfare.
Copyright © 1998 NJ.K.V. Prestolonaslednik Aleksandar II
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