|October 7, 2003
The Western Policy Center, Washington DC
Comments of HRH Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia and
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a pleasure to join you for this important
seminar on my country Serbia and Montenegro.
My thanks go out to the Western Policy Center and its
Executive Director Mr. John Sitilides for initiating this program. I
would also like to thank Colonel Stephen Norton for his work in
establishing the agenda and rallying the speakers.
I would like to warmly thank the participants, the
speakers and attendees for your interest in the future on my country
Serbia and Montenegro.
The name of my country changed from Yugoslavia to the
historic names of two of the predecessors of the Kingdom - Serbia and
Montenegro. I am proud that my family has been deeply associated with my
country no matter what it was called. One of my great grandfather’s was
the last King of the independent Kingdom of Serbia, while another was
the last King of the independent Kingdom of Montenegro. My grandfather
Alexander I was King when the country adopted the name of The Kingdom of
Yugoslavia in 1929, having been the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and
Slovenes. My late father, King Peter II was the last King of a
democratic Yugoslavia and is the only king buried in the United States
in Libertyville Illinois.
I share this history with you not to dwell on the past
but to assure you that my concern and devotion for my country and its
people is strong. Today I have the honor to be a citizen of my country
once again. I became an enemy of the state at the ripe age of two! When
Tito’s deputy Kardelj signed in 1947 a decree abolishing my nationality.
In February 2001 the then Federal Minister of of the Interior of
Yugoslavia Mr. Zoran Zivkovic, now the Prime Minster of Serbia,
presented me, my wife and three boys with the official citizenship
documents in the suite I was born in at Claridge’s Hotel in London.
Winston Churchill had declared the suite Yugoslav territory at the time
of my birth. The return of my citizenship was a very emotional moment as
was the homecoming to The Royal Palace in July 2001. The palace in
Belgrade has been the home of my wife, three boys and me for just over
In 1989 after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the
former Soviet Union, I became deeply involved in promoting democracy for
my homeland. I visited Washington many times over the years and met with
several administrations. I was also glad to contribute to the democratic
process by convening conferences for the Democratic Opposition in
Budapest, Banja Luka and Athens. Finally the big day came with the
Revolution of the 5th October 2000, three years ago last Sunday.
My country is a new emerging democracy recovering from
decades of communism, the cunning regime, sanctions, isolation and the
aggression of bombing. We still have many problems that need to be
solved that include Kosovo and Southern Serbia.
Some might be surprised to know that my country is
multi ethnic and multi religious. Orthodox 65%, Muslim 20%, Roman
Catholic 4%, Protestant 1% and other 10%. Our population is just over
I have traveled extensively all over Serbia and
Montenegro visiting municipalities, factories and hospitals. We need
very serious help in all sectors. My wife has devoted her time to help
our health care system, refugees and orphans – one third of the medical
equipment is broken, one third is well over 20 years old and one third
functions. Unemployment is approximately 40%. Even though we lack jobs
and investors, we are totally committed on the course of democracy and
of a market economy.
Our desire is to join the European Union, but so much
work has to been done in nursing our market economy forward and urgently
moving on with reforms that have been delayed. Like in all democracies
there are political differences and feelings – isn’t that the case in
California. We also have to gain knowledge of the art of lobbying,
public relations and follow up. Our hope and future lies in the
membership of the EU. Greece is a member of the EU and several not too
distant neighbors such as Slovenia and the Czech Republic will be
joining the EU next spring and eventually all the countries in South
Eastern Europe. We cannot fall behind in this process and become the
forgotten center of a sandwich.
It is important that we have superlative relations
with United States and I am glad to say there have been great steps
forward this year. We would deeply welcome additional support for our
new democracy and anticipate that the United States will be more focused
by being considerate regarding background and circumstances. Support
means promoting strong economic ties and not making demands that would
continue to further isolation and even permit the population to give up
trust in democracy and the future if they cannot experience results. It
is clearly a fact that only progress by sustained economic activity that
secures jobs will ensure stability and lasting democracy in my country
and for the whole region.
To achieve success and stability the region of South
Eastern Europe must be considered as one important area to transact with
and not as isolated cases with separate conflicting agendas. We all need
each other to create jobs and economic success. Furthermore I have
stated on numerous occasions the Europe Union cannot have two distinct
classes of nations; first class the European Union and second class the
rest. Isn’t the objective to integrate the whole region into the
In addition support means not further isolating my
country and ransoming it citizens owing to situations involving a very
limited amount of certain personalities. Our people need to survive and
support their families.
My government and its representatives have been here
to Washington recently and they will no doubt come again. Their
objective is to reestablish normal trade relations and request aid from
the United States.
For those who wonder about European Union aid and
other entities. I am certain that they realize the world altered in 1989
after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Commitments for aid became huge
taxing governments and entities. We are grateful for the help received
so far, but we need more aid. Our revolution took place 5th October 2000
three years ago and we emerged under pressure facing so many
unimaginable problems after decades of dictatorship. The tragedy and
pain of 9/11 that the people of United States suffered also affected our
recovery and indeed the global economy. The Middle East state of affairs
also continues to contribute to a difficult economic recovery since many
NGO’s left Serbia and Montenegro and the focus and funds went to
Afghanistan and Iraq.
In conclusion I would be glad if all efforts could be
made to help urgently stimulate the interest of the private business
sector in the United States to come to our country. There are golden
opportunities and incentives for the investor. We happy to have US
Steel, Philip Morris and Galaxy Tires as an investors and hope they will
be the flagships for much more investment and partnerships from the
United States. You will be please to know that there is a non stop
flight now twice a week from New York to Belgrade, please use it!
Everyone is warmly welcome and there are no travel restrictions. We are
a safe country and the people are very hospitable. Welcome to Serbia and