|Speech given by HRH Crown Prince Alexander
To The Blago Fund (Treasure) Raising event in San Francisco, California
On 10 May, 1998
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be here with you this evening in San Francisco at this first fund raising event for the recently formed Blago Fund. I find it very important for all of us to give our support to promote Serbian Cultural heritage and particularly to support young Serbian talent. Serbian talent must flourish.
It is an honour to be a patron of the Blago Fund together with His Grace Bishop Jovan of the Western American Diocese. The Karadjordjevic dynasty and the Serbian Orthodox Church must act together with every one of Serbian origin or descent and friends from everywhere to support such valiant efforts such as The Blago Fund, to preserve and promote Serbian culture heritage. It is interesting to note that in all the periods of greatness and progress in the long history of the Serbian nation the Crown, the Church, and the People have always acted in unity to benefit the Serbian nation. In these particularly difficult and to put it mildly crazy days of where rule by division prevails in our homeland. Our great Serbian heritage is fading under the barrage of the negative use of nationalism and abuse of religion that only creates confusion and ultimately damages our great civilisation. We must in a united and positive way revive our faith and culture both in the home country and in the Diaspora. The urgent regeneration of our cultural roots must happen to re-establish the pillars of Serbian nationhood and that must include true democracy, human rights, freedom of religion, equal rights for all citizens, culture and education.
We must not forget our wonderful history, the Nemanjic period of Serbian History, and more recently the rebirth of the Serbian State in the early 19th century. The Nemanjic period was remarkable not only for the birth and consolidation of the Serbian medieval kingdom, but even more so for the flowering of Serbian culture and spirituality. The imposing Serbian monasteries of that period are evidence of tremendous cultural creativity and a source of great pride for the Serbs wherever they live. Some of the most beautiful of the monasteries are located in Kosovo and are an inalienable part of Serbian cultural heritage.
I do not intend to go here deeply into the political aspect of the Kosovo situation. In a recent statement, I stressed that: “the world should understand something which is dear to all Serbs, namely that Serbian culture and Serbian spirituality, which contributed to the European and world heritage, were born in Kosovo, had flourished in Kosovo and must not be allowed to disappear from Kosovo”.
Let us hope that the world will eventually come to recognise our good people, our history and our feelings. The regime does not represent the true Serbian people, the regime only represents itself. we must have good public relations to get our views across in a civilised manner, but how can we? When the regime has used for its own selfish promotion and perpetual survival our citizens feelings negatively and abused them. The fact is that our unfortunate people are being constantly corrupted and intimidated through a clever propaganda system using the electronic and written media. How can the citizens let alone culture survive under the regime?
We find ourselves in a catch 22 situation. The Belgrade government and politicians think solely of themselves, instead of the people. We all want to do good for our homeland but how can we. When Belgrade does not want to get it right for the people and represent the people’s best interests!
People are the biggest asset of a country and must have knowledgeable, capable, caring, forward looking and responsible leaders. The Serbs are part of Europe and not in some kind of another galaxy.
How much more smaller can we can get? The regime uses for survival Kosovo today. Will it be soon Vojvodina? Will it be Montenegro? Will it soon also happen on the outside in Macedonia? This is simply called buying time and ending up with only the back yard, simply nothing in the end, but pain, loss of pride and hardship.
How great our culture is, we should all be proud of the Nemanjic period
and particularly the foundation of the Serbian monastery of Hilandar on
Mount Athos in Greece. This year Hilandar is celebrating its 800th anniversary
and it is only proper to use this occasion to recall the outstanding role
it has played in Serbian history. Two men of royal birth founded Hilandar
in 1198; Hilandar quickly became the most important centre of Serbia’s
religious and cultural life. Its founders were – St. Sava and his father
St. Simeon – they were both outstanding personalities of the early period
of the Serbian medieval kingdom.
After the liberation from Ottoman rule in the 19th century, leaders
of the reborn Serbian State – from Karadjordje onwards – worked hard to
enable the Serbs make up for lost time and to catch up with Europe’s civilising
process. Building on the foundations laid by St. Sava, the Crown, Church
and People again worked together to nurture the fragile new state and to
help bring about a renewal of culture, education and good citizenship.
Under my great grandfather, King Peter I Karadjordjevic, Serbia embarked
on a golden age of democracy, cultural and educational progress. It earned
great respect and prestige throughout Europe. King Peter I initially, and
indeed my grandfather King Alexander I paid much attention to the expansion
and consolidation of the educational system and cultural activities in
the new Yugoslav State.
This is not the occasion to delve into what happened to Serbian culture under the communist regime. Neither is this the place to go into an analysis of the appalling tragedy, pain and dark negative era that has befallen the Serbs, neighbours and most of South Eastern Europe in recent years. I will only repeat what I said about this in my Easter message last month. “The causes of our tragedy are manifold, but the most important is the fact that we have lost our spiritual identity, our bearings as a nation. We have lost the feeling of a common destiny and spiritual unity in which a nation and its state act in harmony with God’s and man’s laws for the good of all its citizens. This is the cause of our setbacks, defeats, our loss of direction.” National culture is the core of identity of a people. Any country would be lost, very dull, and totally insignificant without culture.
I wholeheartedly agree with the goal of the Blago Fund to preserve and promote Serbian treasures in a way that ties together the past, present and future. People of Serbian origin across the world have the responsibility to help preserve our culture. We also welcome advice and help from friends across the world. Perhaps, Serbs overseas have the greater responsibility since they do not suffer from the economic hardship, the barrage of propaganda and other restraints experienced by our people at home under the regime. Culture defines us as a nation. Our great Serbian poet Jovan Ducic, who spent his last years here in the United States, gave a definition of homeland or “otadzbina”. He said “homeland is neither soil, nor the race, nor the language, but the collective spirit of the nation”. I put it to you that this “collective spirit of the nation” finds its expression in many ways, but primarily in cultural creativity of that nation. It is for this reason that we must all support the Blago fund.