Ambassador in Bern His Highness Prince Stefan von und zu Liechtenstein

Ambassador in Bern
His Highness Prince Stefan von und zu Liechtenstein

exclusiv in an interview with
His Highness Prince Stefan
von und zu Liechtenstein
Ambassador in Bern

• Your Highness, what does
   the cooperation between
   the Principality and the host country 
   Switzerland look like?

Liechtenstein has maintained an embassy in Bern since 1944. More precisely, it was a legation from 1944 to 1969 and an embassy since then. The relations between Liechten-stein and Switzerland have always been very close. Since 1919 Switzerland has represented Liechtenstein’s interests    around the world on the diplomatic and consular level - at any rate, wherever Liechtenstein does not represent itself. As you know, in 1923 Liechtenstein entered into a very special economic alliance - a partnership - through the customs agree-ment with Switzerland. Incidentally, this alliance came about long before the birth of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), from which the EC and the present-day EU later evolved. To enumerate all areas of the coopera-tion between Liechtenstein and Switzer-land, even to briefly describe them, would go beyond the scope of this  magazine. We already know some of these aspects from daily life. I will mention only the currency agreement with Switzerland, which will celebrate its 25th birthday. And on top of that, there are always continuous new agreements between the two states: Lastly in the   asylum sphere and soon in the realm of cooperation with regard to disasters. On the whole, one can say that this coopera-tion has become even more intensive since Liechtenstein’s accession to the European Economic Area (EEA) - to the benefit of everyone, I think. But the two states also work closely together on the international platform. For instance, Liechtenstein and Switzerland recently launched a proposal for improvement  of the working methods in the UN Security Council, which has won widespread recognition. There is also a close exchange in all other international organisations. I have to break off here, but you see it could go on for many pages!

• A question that one occasionally hears:
   If two states are closely linked with one
   another, why are diplomats still
   needed? Your Highness, what is your
   impression of diplomacy on the whole?

I have been a diplomat for Liechtenstein since 2001. Before that I was active as an investment banker, and for quite some time I was also self-employed in tourism. Thus said, I am also a so-called «cross-over newcomer». Of course, I had certain notions of diplomacy. But my opinion has fundamentally changed in the past five years. One wants to not just an e-mail address and a telephone number from a state, but a face. The face is the head of state, the government and even the diplomats. In many cases diplomacy represents the constant element in international relations. Who knows: How many crises in this world have already been prevented through the famous «informal clarifications» among embassies? Apart from that is the fact that Liechtenstein probably has one of the most efficient diplomatic apparatuses in the world - just think that 22 diplomats in Vaduz and in the eight embassies together handle the entire UN/EEA/EFTA and Council of Europe work for Liechtenstein, and even foster the bilat-eral relations. The activity is incredibly varied, exciting and interesting. But it is also a major challenge for the concerned families, especially for the spouses. In many countries the divorce rates with, diplomats are substantially higher than in the society anyway. This is surely not due to the fact that one leads a peaceful life. When the work comes to a close for many others, the job goes on for the diplomats. The day could easily have    36 hours. The word «overtime» has to be a foreign word. A diplomat serves his country. In how many professions does this form still exist?

• Your Highness, what is the - or an - es-
   sential task of Liechtenstein’s
   diplomacy, and is «diplomat»
   an interesting profession
   for young people?

Liechtenstein does a good - I would   gladly say outstanding - job on the  international floor. That’s why I take the liberty to say this, because as a relative newcomer I still have a bit of the view from outside. One of our most important tasks as diplomats for Liechtenstein is also to make Liechtenstein more well-known abroad. The country has considerably professionalized its communications outwardly and communicates actively. In addition, we must repeatedly be crisis managers, clear up misunderstandings, and stand by Liechtenstein citizens abroad – directly or indirectly via the Swiss channels.  As a diplomat one also gets to know the  backgrounds to things which one reads the next day in the Swiss newspaper NZZ or in the Herald Tribune. One perceives associations and gets to know fascinating people. I think this is all very exciting for young people.