Liechtenstein is a hereditary monarchy and this year is celebrating two special anniversaries: the 25th anniversary of Prince Hans Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein acceding to the throne and the 10th anniversary of H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois being named his representative. Following the death of H.S.H. Prince Franz Josef II on 13 November 1989, H.S.H. Prince Hans Adam became Reigning Prince of the Principality of Liechtenstein. On 15 August 2004 he appointed his son, H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois, as his representative and entrusted to him all national and international duties inherent to the head of state. Since then H.S.H. has exercised all sovereign rights. The next in line to the throne is his son, Prince Wenzel.
On 1 July 1983, on the 45th anniversary of his accession to the throne, Prince Franz Josef II announced that in spring 1984 he would hand over sovereign rights to his son, Hereditary Prince Hans-Adam, stating: I am sure that he will benefit from the same affection and cooperation that I have enjoyed over all these years. The unity of the Prince, the Princely House and the People is the most important guarantee for a future full of hope for the country. Following the death of H.S.H. Prince Franz Josef II on 13 November 1989, H.S.H. Prince Hans Adam II became head of state.
Therefore, on 13 November 2014 Liechtenstein celebrated the 25th anniversary of Prince Hans Adam II taking the throne. On 15 August 2004 he appointed his son, H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois, as his representative and entrusted to him all national and international duties inherent to the head of state of the Principality of Liechtenstein. To mark the 25th anniversary of H.S.H. Prince Hans Adam II succeeding to the throne and the 10th anniversary of H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois being installed as his representative, this interview was carried out with the three generations of the Princely Family Reigning Prince Hans Adam, Hereditary Prince Alois and 19-year-old Prince Wenzel.
Interview: Johannes Kaiser
Serene Highness, is being a small country like Liechtenstein in a large international community a recipe for success?
H.S.H. Prince Hans Adam: Not only the success but also the survival of a small state in Europe is very much dependent on the European political environment and the political leadership in the small state itself. Between the end of the Middle Ages and the middle of the 20th century the political climate in Europe was not favourable for small states. During this period almost all of the small states that had developed during the Middle Ages disappeared. The Principality of Liechtenstein managed to survive primarily thanks to the strong position the Princely House enjoys in Europe be it in politics, science or the military. It wasnt until the political consolidation in Europe following the Second World War, the downfall of the huge Soviet empire and the creation of free-trade areas that the conditions for small states improved decisively. However, even with the right conditions in place you still need political leaders who are willing and able to use the opportunities that arise from such an improved climate.
H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois: Being a small state is in itself not a recipe for success. Small states have advantages and disadvantages compared to larger countries. Disadvantages include the lack of economic and military power, a small domestic market and not being able to benefit from economies of scale. The effect these have depends very much on the political and economic conditions the small state is exposed to at regional and international level. Advantages include close relations between politics and the people, the resulting high level of transparency on state processes and the fact that a small state simply cannot afford to have lots of bureaucracy and a problematic economic policy with large subsidies. However, these advantages particularly those arising from the closeness between politics and the people also have to be used. For me this means reacting quickly to changing conditions, gaining broad support among the population for decisions and using the synergies that result from a less complex bureaucratic system.
Liechtenstein is currently undergoing fundamental changes in structure. Where do you see the risks and where do you see the opportunities?
H.S.H. Prince Hans Adam: Every modern state is in a permanent process of structural change. Some branches shrink, others grow. In the long term it is not possible to prevent a branch or company that is no longer competitive from shrinking. The decisive thing is that the state must provide the best possible environment for new entrepreneurs or new structures within existing companies so that the economy as a whole can continue to grow and compensate for job losses in other areas. A good environment includes low taxes, a good infrastructure not least when it comes to communication and a population with good education and qualifications. Here, Liechtenstein offers outstanding conditions but our competitors are by no means twiddling their thumbs. Thats why we must permanently work to further improve our system. However, I dont believe it is the states job to use subsidies or other measures to support certain branches and obstruct others.
H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois: I agree with this view on structural change. The main risks associated with structural change are attempts to prevent it happening rather than using the chances that it offers.
In which direction do you think Liechtenstein will develop?
H.S.H. Prince Hans Adam: The political and economic climate in Europe is decisive for Liechtenstein. This climate stabilised somewhat following the downfall of the Soviet empire, though the developments in Ukraine still provide an element of uncertainty. A further element of uncertainty in economic terms is the high sovereign debt levels of European countries. However, I believe that even if the Ukraine descends into civil war or certain European states go bankrupt, the impact on Liechtenstein will be limited. Liechtensteins industry and our services sector are also competitive outside Europe, which can mitigate the effects of setbacks in Europe.
H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois: In the coming years Liechtenstein will continue to face an environment that is more difficult than the one we experienced in the 30 years leading up to 2008. However, at an international level Liechtenstein is still in a very good position and can continue this good development if it takes the right reform steps in the next months.
H.S.H. Prince Wenzel: I am confident that my generation will also contribute to a positive development of Liechtenstein.
Hereditary Prince Alois, how are you preparing your son for the important role of Prince that he will assume in the future?
H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois: As well as the usual things that all parents try to teach their children as they grow up, I tell him about the head of states responsibilities and give him advice on the best way to prepare for these. This includes talking about which subjects at school, internships, university courses and work experience can help him.
Why is Vaduz Castle not open to the general public? Could you imagine opening it up to visitors?
H.S.H. Prince Hans Adam: Vaduz Castle could only be run as a museum if we moved out. When my father moved to Liechtenstein in 1938 there was a general desire among the population for him to live in the castle. Around 40 years ago I myself suggested that we should move out of the castle and turn it into a museum in order to save money. However, back then there was a lot of opposition to this proposal and I think little has changed today.