Vaduz – “I am thankful and proud that the Principality of Liechtenstein is able to look back on a very happy 300 years,” said H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein during the international ceremony held to mark the 300th anniversary of the Principality of Liechtenstein. He extended his gratitude to the many personalities who, at different times in Liechtenstein’s history, played their part in their respective fields. “Our thanks are also extended to our neighbours, however, without whose positive and close cooperation the fortunate development of our country would not have been possible,” said Hereditary Prince Alois. A number of different factors have been responsible for this. Liechtenstein has had the good fortune to remain an independent state, not least on account of its poverty and marginal geographical location. During the first few years, it was to a large extent the international networking and profile of the Princely Family that was responsible for the country’s survival. Later, it was its prompt response to critical developments and the timely representation of Liechtenstein’s interests at the international level. “Integration with Europe was only possible by adapting the EEA Treaty to Liechtenstein, and this was the only way to restructure the financial centre,” said Hereditary Prince Alois.
According to Hereditary Prince Alois, a success factor that Liechtenstein had not been able to influence was the global opening of markets. Without this, Liechtenstein’s development into a broadly diversified and highly-specialised economic centre would not have been possible. Today, Liechtenstein is in the fortunate position of being a role model for others. “Liechtenstein already has a number of sustainability initiatives that are attracting international interest or have the potential to do so,” said Hereditary Prince Alois. Further carefully targeted steps towards comprehensive sustainability will not merely boost Liechtenstein’s attractiveness as a business location, but will also make it possible to offer added value to the international community.
“Over the past 300 years, Liechtenstein has never had it so good as it does today,” summarised the Hereditary Prince. “The future presents many challenges. If we want to preserve our high quality of life for ourselves and our descendants, we may not rest on our laurels. We need to remain active and need to secure the foundations for a high quality of life anew time and again.” This also applies to foreign policy. It is crucial that we maintain good relations with our neighbours and safeguard recognition as a valued member of the global community of states - thereby counteracting the global trend towards a multipolar and unstable world order.
Fascinating journey through history
Yesterday’s ceremony at SAL in Schaan took those present through the history of the Principality of Liechtenstein. Over the day, more than 800 people from Liechtenstein strolled through their own history, during which they had to carry out tasks at various stations along the anniversary march. All of these tasks were linked to Liechtenstein’s history. “The hikers were required to solve these tasks in a playful manner. It was more than just a march - the participants themselves became main actors in the event,” said Michelle Kranz, Managing Director of Liechtenstein Marketing, who was commissioned to organise the birthday party.
The march was divided into two groups. One group began their journey through history in the morning from Gutenberg Castle in the south of the country, the other at the ruins of Schellenberg Castle in the north of Liechtenstein. These groups then came together in the afternoon at the so-called Scheidgraben, a ditch that separates the two “Unterland” and “Oberland” parts of the country from each other. There the groups symbolically recreated the unification of the two parts of the country with a light show.
Ceremonial act with international guests
At the same time, a ceremony was held at the SAL Schaan, attended by guests of state from abroad, guests of honour from Liechtenstein and 300 lucky winners from the population. “We welcomed the Federal Presidents of Switzerland, Germany and Austria to the ceremony”, said Kranz. This had consequences for all participants of the ceremony, beginning with the drawing of lots and registration up to the evening itself, which took place under high security. Nevertheless, everything went smoothly. “The various institutions involved in the ceremony worked together excellently. Thanks to the good preparation and well-organised implementation, the anniversary year got off to a very successful start,” Kranz said happily.
H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein, as well as Prime Minister Adrian Hasler and President of Parliament Albert Frick took part in the stage programme. Various representatives of the population were also part of the wide-ranging evening programme. “A truly magical moment took place when the march participants entered the hall where the ceremony was taking place,” said Kranz, describing one of the highlights of the evening. Following the ceremony, there was a birthday cake for the march participants as well as for the invited guests. “I think a birthday without a birthday cake wouldn’t have been the same,” said Kranz with a smile.
“I congratulate the Principality of Liechtenstein most cordially on its anniversary and 300-year history. I would like to thank the people of Liechtenstein for their excellent neighbourly relations,” said Ueli Maurer, President of Switzerland, at the ceremony in Schaan.
Neighbourly relations between Switzerland and Liechtenstein can be described as nothing less than exemplary - which is all the more remarkable in a world in which power politics and interference are increasingly determining international interstate relations. “By contrast, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, despite all the differences between their systems of government, have maintained close ties, cooperation and friendship for generations. We respect our particular characteristics and emphasise the aspects we share. I wish the Principality of Liechtenstein and all its inhabitants a future in peace, security and prosperity,” declared the Swiss President.
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen expressed similar sentiments. “I wish the Principality of Liechtenstein and its people another successful 300 years and am firmly convinced that the very good relations between Austria and Liechtenstein will continue, to our mutual benefit. He also expressed hopes that Liechtenstein would continue to pursue its technologically advanced and sustainable course. He therefore sees one strength of the Principality not only in its impressive economic development, but also in the clear focus on Europe.
The close links between the two countries has also made history: In May 1919, Liechtenstein appointed Prince Eduard as the first accredited foreign diplomat to the new Republic of Austria, and the visit of Federal Chancellor Bruno Kreisky in 1975 was the first official visit of a foreign head of government to Liechtenstein. “Liechtenstein is probably the neighbouring country with which Austria maintains the closest and most harmonious relations. We generally pursue very similar foreign-policy objectives. With no other country is there such a busy exchange of visits by government members,” said Van der Bellen.