Nowadays, institutions are too quickly turning to culture and identity to explain politics, especially at election times. As simple and convenient as it seems, it is not as accurate as such. All across Europe, the governments failed at distributive justice, not on culture or behavioural recognition.
We are discussing these highly topical issues with our special guest Camilla Habsburg-Lothringen.
We need culture to know where we came from, says her Imperial and Royal Highness Archduchess of Austria and Princess of Tuscany Camilla Habsburg-Lothringen. “In a time where society is complaining, is frustrated and not making the best of what we have, there we need culture. The cultural field enables us to build up dialogues better and faster than administrations can.” Contributing to a better world, that is why the descendant of the Habsburg house which leads back to Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Therese of Austria, chose the cultural field over a more political career.
How does it feel be the great-great-great-granddaughter of such historical figure like Maria Theresia?
This year we celebrate the 300th anniversary of Empress Maria
Theresias birth. She was bright and very advanced for her time. Great
policy such as the obligation to go to school, the vaccination against
chicken pox, the opening of the stock market and the founding of the
academy for diplomats was one of the many actions implemented by her.
Her strong charakter and personality as a ruler, wife and mother
impresses me strongly
It is a big responsibility to carry this name, it will always be
imprinted on me. As it is not easy to fullfill all peoples expectations
but I try to be true to myself, not to loose my focus and keep
remembering my history, where I come from
Do you consider this responsibility to be political?
No, there is no role for me in politics. The time to get involved is
very limited. First you have to get elected, and during the mandate you
try to do as much as you can – let’s hope so- and then the electorate
either replaces or re-elects you. All this makes it difficult to make
real changes not mentioning the opponent parties that block every
suggestions even if they are good ones
Politicians mostly take responsibility over a certain period. This is
understandable because they receive legitimacy over a certain time. But
the downside is that many do not understand the responsibility for
future consequences of their actions. Monarchies, nobility and family
run companies they all have to make carefull decisions as these leave an
impact and imprint on the future of generations and the empires or
business. Politicians should learn from this and vow to take
consequences for the effects of their actions in the future.
Besides that I feel that real change should be realised via initiatives.
Do you feel that we need change?
I am pretty thankful to live in a peaceful country with a strong
stability like in Austria. But it worries me that people don’t recognize
that. In the last years nearly all over Europe I observe the encrease
of a complaining and unsatisfied society that is questioning everything.
Also greed and materalism has become very dominant in our times and
this leads to a feeling of emptiness. And so its understandable that
people become very scared and receptive to any kind of manipulative
information that theats this artificial way of life
In our times there is a strong destabilizing fear for the future and
other cultures. The result is a lack of focus and investments. Constant
worrying will lead us nowhere and won’t enable us to build a strong
future. That is something we need to change.
I would say that there is a need for respect. Respect is much
stronger than tolerance. The population is growing fast, everybody is
getting closer, and more people will live in our countries. Just
tolerating others will not be sufficient, we need to respect each other
and other cultures and learn from them
Do you see any role for yourself in this?
I have a background in PR and advertising, besides that I am also
very active in the field of networking. But most important for me are
values: the stability of a society and passing on of ideas and sending
impulses. I was never involved in representing companies, firms, but
always more looking into the direction of a so called atmospheric PR if
you understand what I mean. That is a kind of seismographic feeling
towards our environment and our global thinking and acting. Searching
for solutions, to get together those people who feel and think in a
similar way and then move things into action.
Do you consider that to be diplomacy?
Yes. Diplomacy has a very important stabilizing function in this
world. I prefer the cultural field because it is neutral and makes it
easier to bind people and nations on a diplomatic base. A few months ago
I became Director Euro-Mediterranean Diplomacy and Intercultural
Affairs at the International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan
Studies (IFIMES). In this function I would like to connect the
Euro-Mediterranean and Balkan regions and give a voice to those without
one. For me that is one of the important aspects of diplomacy.
Do you feel that the European Union contributes to a better world?
The European project -the European Union, brought prosperity and
peace to the continent. But now they are getting lost in a big
contruction of burocracy and regulations like on what kind of energy
saving light bulbs we are allowed to buy. There are too many paragraphs
blocking any fast action. I find this a waste of energy, time and money.
There is a real need for solutions for the bigger problems, like
immigration for instance. The European Union should focus on the bigger
political issues and on the cultural field
The near future might be challenging, but we need to keep the dialogue going, because together we can tackle every crisis.
First published by the Dutch Diplomat Magazine