Ambassadress in Vienna Her Highness Maria-Pia Kothbauer, Princess von und zu Liechtenstein

Ambassadress in Vienna
Her Highness Maria-Pia Kothbauer, Princess von und zu Liechtenstein

exclusiv in an interview with Her
Highness Maria-Pia Kothbauer,
Princess von und zu Liechtenstein,
Ambassadress in Vienna

• In December 1997, Her Highness
   Maria-Pia Kothbauer, Princess von
   und zu Liechtenstein, was appointed 
   as resident ambassadress of the
   Principality of Liechtenstein in Austria, 
   with diplomatic seat in Vienna. Madam
   Ambassadress, what is your personal
   upshot after nearly nine years?

I think I can say very well. The relations between Austria and Liechtenstein were probably at least as close and as good as in the time of the Danube monarchy. This is particularly due to three reasons. First of all, Austria and Liechtenstein belong to the same eco-nomic area. The economic exchange between the two countries has strongly increased in the past years. Secondly, parts of Austria and Liechtenstein belong to the same region and thus share the same interests. The regional cooperation has also noticeably increased in the past years. I’m particularly thinking of the areas security, culture, education and the environment. And - last but not least - thirdly, the network of relations between the people has grown stronger. Today, more Austrian and Liechtenstein citizens live, work and study in the neighbouring country than ever before. Austrians even work in the Liechtenstein administration; for instance a young Liechtenstein diplomat has just completed a practical train-ing period in the Austrian foreign min-istry, and will support this ministry during the coming EU presidency. Austria remains a popular tourism destination for many Liechtenstein citizens. Vienna has also gained in attractiveness in the past years. All of this strengthens and stimulates the relations.

• Madam Ambassadress, according
   to your personal assessment
   of the activity as a diplomat, where    
   were you able to provide inspirations 
   which were accepted and implemented?

I was the first Liechtenstein ambassadress with a diplomatic seat in Vienna, and in 1998 I inaugurated the bilateral embassy here in Vienna. This initially concerned the establishment of material as well as contextual conditions for the Liechtenstein presence in Vienna. Moreover, I took over the consular support of about 400 Liechtenstein citizens living in Austria - a task which until then was realised through the Swiss embassy in Vienna. The Liechtenstein embassy in Vienna initiates and attends to a large portion of the very close and varied contacts which exist between Liechtenstein and Austria on the ministerial as well as civil servant level. It is clear that an embassy on the scene can provide many impulses. The implementation of the project regarding Liechtenstein’s involvement - via the    socalled «Liechtenstein shelves» - in libraries which Austria had built, particularly in reform states, was encouraging. The Austria libraries consist of about 50 locations in Southeast, Central and Eastern Europe, and give Austria and also Liechtenstein the opportunity to inform people about the country, history, economy, culture and literature, and also to interest people in both countries: A unique opportunity for Liechtenstein, which has a limited diplomatic network.  The Liechtenstein mission in Vienna is not only the embassy in the Republic of Austria, but also a mission in the Organisation for Security and Coopera-tion in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations in Vienna. The work in these organisations is very essential for the activity of the embassy in Vienna. In this setting I was able to lead various working groups and interest Liechtenstein regarding the possibilities of exchange and also in the «networking» which these organisations offer to us. I am also pleased that it was possible in the past years to be able to win over so many people, especially young Liechtenstein citizens, for working in/for these organisations and for a practical training period at the embassy in Vienna.

• What does your time management look 
   like, or how can the citizens
   of Liechtenstein envision your daily
   agenda and the activity of
   an ambassadress?

The routine activity as ambassadress at the OSCE, but also at the United Nations, takes up quite a bit of time. For one thing, there are the meetings with all ambassadors, but for another thing there are quite a few coordination meetings on individual topics with our traditional partners. Since I am also the doyenne of the OSCE ambassador, I also have to observe a series of commitments in the diplomatic corps. As the Ambas-sadress in Austria is it especially important to build up and foster contacts in the realm of politics, administration, economy, press and culture. This takes place in a variety of ways, and starts early in the morning and often ends late in the night. But of course, this belongs to the professional life of a diplomat.

• Your Highness, what are or were
   personally important moments in your 
   activity as ambassadress?

One important moment was the state visit of the royal couple in March 2004    in Austria and the subsequently related inauguration of the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna.

• What does Her Highness personally 
   wish for the future?

As a diplomat in the OSCE and in the United Nations, we frequently have to deal with conflicts, poverty and misery. Therefore I wish for more peace in the world and more reason for optimism and confidence.