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Air Canada

Chamber of Commerce

CANADA Exclusive
Mariánska 12
811 08 Bratislava
Slovak Republic
Tel.:  +421 252 932 895
Fax:  +421 252 932 896
Cell:  +421  911 424 435
[email protected]

s  p e c i a l

Karl von Habsburg-Lothringen

Successor to the Imperial Dynasty

What are your current relations with SR?

First of all, there are strong historical relations linked to my family. The whole process of accession to the European Union was very important to me as well. Although, I was not in the delegation I was very much engaged and interested in the process. Also, I frequently interact with the Slovakian military regarding the questions in culture heritage protection. Overall, there are many connections, which I  think are very positive and very good.

During the Second World War, the former empress, Zita Habsburg lived in Quebec, together with the younger children. What is your relationship with Canada?

Again, I would like to mention very important historical relationship. My family was able to find a refuge in Canada for quite some time during the World War II. It was a very complicated and difficult period. In this aspect Canada is traditionally playing a very important role for many people, not only for my family. Of course, one feels very strongly when somebody helps you in such a difficult situation.

You are a  Vice-President of the Austrian branch of the Paneuropean Union since 1987. What are the main goals of the Paneuropean Union in Austria and in Europe?

The Main goal always have to be to talk about bigger Europe, because it was always “small Europe” that was under discussion. At some stage, Western Europe was the broadly debated topic. These days, it is the Schengen group, Europe group, etc. Europe is in process of growing and that needs to be emphasised. The expression “paneuropean”, by itself, symbolizes a holistic view to perceive Europe as a bigger entity. Nevertheless, we as Pan-Europeans, do not stand for a purely bureaucratic Europe, the value-oriented aspect is much needed.  We are trying to recognize which historical values are important for Europe today. In all our different branches, we are attempting to implement and show these values, such as Christian values. Christian values in the most liberal sense, because there are, of course, other religions in Europe.

10 years ago, you were the General Manager of Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. What specific problems have the UNPO focused recently?

UNPO is an organisation that represents ethnic minorities, mainly those, that do not have ability to represent themselves. Certain large ethnic groups are not represented in UNPO, because they created big structures where they can represent themselves. The focus of UNPO, for numerous reasons, was always to work for small ethnic groups. A lot of members of these minorities are oppressed in a difficult situation and it is crucial to look after them and make sure that their identity is protected. By protecting their identity we are essentially protecting our own culture.  Another goal of UNPO is to apply the right to self-determination, which many people fail to fulfill in their lives, even to the minorities that are oppressed in many ways.

You are the president of the Association of the National Committees of the Blue Shield. Could you provide some details of their activities, please?

It is an organization that has its roots in international law. It was created through the Hague convection in 1954, because during the World War II., people started to be aware that conflict goes hand in hand with destructions of cultural heritage. The organization was created, however did not find practical use at that time. One of the specific reasons why that happened was that there were no legal grounds to take any serious action. It took more legal steps to give the organisation, such as Blue Shield, the “teeth” to able to be really active. One of the important things was adding of the so-called second protocol of 1999 to the Hague convention, which put the military misuse of cultural heritage into the area of being a criminal offense.  In 2002 the International Criminal Court in Hague was established to reinforce the laws regarding the misuse of cultural heritage. As of right now, the Blue Shield, we think about ourselves as a “translation office”.  We are translating two languages that usually cannot be translated, and those are “military” and “academic”, because these are two groups of people that usually do not speak to each other. The academics in our organizations are working with the local specialists to bring to attention the cultural heritage objects that are in danger.  Consequently, our organization communicates with military and helps to create the “No Strike List”, list of objects that should be exempt from military use. These things need to be done in advance, because when the military conflict arises, it is usually to late. Therefore, the cultural heritage protection in case of conflict has to happen before conflict. In collaboration with organisations like UNESCO and ICRC we are trying to prepare for the conflicts in advance.

On January 1, 2007 you took over as the Head of the House of Habsburg, a function that was formerly represented by your father Otto, what is the practical impact of that event?

I  had a  chance and huge privilege to have been working together with my father for many years before that. The Head of the House of Habsburg sounds very grand, but a  lot of it is administrative work, such as allocating the family, finding members of the family and deciding where is it necessary to represent it.

You are the  Head and Sovereign of the Order of the Golden Fleece. What does it mean and how many members are there?

The Order of a Golden Fleece has always been restricted and limited to 50 members. At its foundation it is a very eminent political order. It was founded by Phillip the Good who, politically, found himself in a very difficult situation at a time of its creation. As a duke of Burgundy, geographically, he was trapped between two huge and powerful structures, which were King of France on one side, and the Roman King on the other side. The objective was to create a political institution that connects these neighbours with whom he potentially could have conflict and to give the order the sovereign rights, such as declaring war and peace. The idea was to create an institution that puts all the different sides together and in case of conflict they are forced to sit it out behind table to avoid military actions. In this sense, this order was created to overcome conflict and is very similar to some of the institutions that exist today. For example, even the primary impulse for creation of the European Union rises from the conflict between France and Germany. The order of the Golden Fleece is a political instrument that comprised many of the big families at that time as well as today. It does not have the authority to decide over war and peace anymore, but it gives the knights of the order the possibilities to exchange the ideas on a regular basis. It is not a charitable order, but much more a political institution.

President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is much sympathizing with your negative attitude towards the medicament Mifegyne, used for termination of pregnancy.  Please provide some details on your attitude.

As a  Catholic I am standing for a  functioning family. Family should provide a safe heaven for their members in a way that abortion is not needed. The family is the smallest nucleus and the basis of our society. That is the reason, why I am engaging myself in these sorts of topics when the situation offers itself. For me, it is a much more a political decision that I would like to see enacted to support family as a safe structure in society.

You are an owner of  Porsche 911. What is your attitude towards sport automobiles?

For me a  car is a  means to work effectively. I am doing most of my travels on my own and that is why   I  choose comfortable, safe and fast car. And that is exactly what this car is providing me with.  My son is a passionate race car driver who is now racing in formula Masters for Lotus, so I am linked to this community though him.

Do you have any hobbies?

I do not have a  classical hobby. My work is so interesting and diversified that I do not feel the need to have a  hobby of that sort. In my work I can represent those things for which I really have passion. In general, my work is very diversified and has a lot of interesting elements and overall the work that I am doing is giving me a feeling that I do not need a hobby.

Your sons name is Ferdinand Zvonimir, what inspired you to use Slavic name Zvonimir?

First of all, our family is very closely linked to a Slavic part of Europe. But the real reason is that I met my wife in Croatia. It was during the time of conflict and we worked to protect Croatian cultural heritage, which was for us both a way of saving the European identity. In order to honour that fact, we decided that all our children should have a Croatian second name.

You are living in the Anif, small town near Salzburg in the former Villa Swoboda, now Casa Austria.  What is the history of the dwelling in context with your title of Archduke of Austria?

The dwelling has nothing to do with my title. We bought the house, because we wanted to live in Salzburg. A Viennese construction company that belonged to Mr. Swoboda built the house in 1850s. Mr. Swoboda built the house for himself and later it was used on a several occasions for meetings between the German and Austrian emperor and partly also for the honeymoon of Crown Prince Rudolf. The family had some relationship with the house only because it is located in a convenient place close to Salzburg.

Your younger brother Georg is living in Budapest with his family. Why did he choose Budapest rather Germany or Austria?

While he was studying, and even earlier, during the time before the iron curtain fell down, there was a necessity and a possibility for a member of our family to engage himself in Hungary. I am very grateful to him that he grabbed this opportunity and moved to Hungary and basically have the family represented there as well. It was his personal decision, strongly supported by his father and also by me.  I think he established himself very well there.

Lucia Kyrinovičová

Photo by George Velebír and archive of Karl von Habsburg