Last month His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco sat down with Monaco Hebdo’s Milena Radoman to discuss his recent trip to France, the appointment of a new finance minister in Monaco and more. Here is what the sovereign prince had to say:
On Foreign Policy:
Monaco Hebdo: My lord, you have met the French President François Hollande at the Elysee on December 7. A first impression?
Prince Albert II: The meeting took place in a very good atmosphere. I already had the opportunity to meet informally President François Hollande at Stade de France for the final of the World Cup in 1998 against the Blue Brazil. He also came to the Stade Louis II in support of AS Monaco and then we had crossed again this summer in London at the Olympics. However, this was actually our first working meeting.
MH: How would you describe the Franco Monégasque relations today?
PAII: I can assure you that the Franco – Monégasque relations are excellent, friendly, frank and direct. There is no issue with difficulties. The warmth of our meetings proved that. President Holland welcomed the efforts made by the Principality fiscal transparency. We also discussed topics each year by the Franco-Monégasque, but also by the local board with the neighboring department on issues of access, waste transport. The President and I have reaffirmed our commitment to the community of fate between France and Monaco, confirmed by the Treaty of 24 October 2002, this year marks the tenth anniversary.
MH: Concretely, what brings you support to France in the dialogue with the European Union?
PAII: It is still too early to tell. It seems in any case clear that we share the same approach to our relations with the EU that Monaco should keep its specificities. It is therefore necessary to consider an agreement with the European Union, taking into account the respect of our interests. They are different in many areas than other small countries such as Andorra and the Republic of San Marino.
MH: What is your position on an entry in the European Union?
PAII: We hope, with the EU, progress on concrete issues such as transport, food and pharmaceuticals, and youth access to higher education in the member countries.
We need to find a general agreement that takes into account our specific in these areas. It is out of the question to be part of the European Union. Monaco has no interest.
MH: Other European debate in the news: The referral to the Venice Commission by the rapporteur Anne Brasseur. Have you officially responded to the Council of Europe and said that Monaco does not become a constitutional monarchy?
PAII: The government has officially expressed on this subject in my application. I have nothing more to add. But, know that I met by the merest chance the President of the Venice Commission at Paris, Mr. Buquicchio because I decorated his wife, the former European Commissioner for the Rights of the Child, 10 December at the Embassy of Monaco and I had the opportunity to talk with him on this subject. I also spoke with Didier Chagnollaud, representing Monaco with the Venice Commission. I think they understood our position. Discounts decorations can sometimes also to convey important messages …
MH: This means the debate is closed?
PAII: The Venice Commission will submit its findings as it was before and we will respond in a timely manner if necessary.
MH: You have chosen the successor of Marco Piccinini?
PAII: Given the instability of the international economic environment, the responsibilities attached to this position of great importance. I would like to thank Mr. Marco Piccinini for its investment without reserve, his determination and his ability to work. He fulfilled the goal that we all agreed: The return to equilibrium of State Accounts, faster than expected elsewhere. It has absolutely no failed in its mission, but wished for personal reasons of its own, no longer remain in government. I chose his successor Jean Castellini whose skills are recognized principality. Jean Castellini was part of my practice, and when it is gone, we stayed in very good terms. He had to accomplish an important mission as General Secretary of the CFC. He knows the financial system. He responded immediately to my request and showed an interest in getting involved in the affairs of the State.
MH: It remains a classic configuration with a government adviser on Finance for domestic and international economic issues?
PAII: It was actually intended to separate the national and international missions and another member of the government to finance advisor manages international economic issues and negotiations with Bercy or the OECD. I finally felt it was better that one person handles all of these issues.
MH: What is its mission?
PAII: It should stay the course I set: be very careful with spending and return to a sustainable fiscal balance to strengthen the reserve fund constitutional guarantee of our economic independence and the maintenance of our social model. The international environment remains fragile and precarious in 2013. The world leaders have shown their fears for the future.
MH: Another shuffle is it in 2013?
PAII: I do not see what that would justify another reshuffle for the moment. Minister of State generally has a three-year mission, but this time is not included. This is not because there will be a new national council there will be a new government. Another national council does not mean another Minister of State! It does not work like that in Monaco.
MH: You mentioned the national elections. You asked what the campaign is worthy. Is she really as you hitherto, in light of recent events, that your government has condemned elsewhere?
PAII: I did not comment on politics. All these incidents are regrettable and I had the opportunity to tell Mr. Robillon. It is my hope that this campaign is more measured and that all candidates show more respect. It is a question of dignity. Now the real campaign begins. We see that the lists offer.
On the Extension at Sea:
MH: You announced last June that the track was relaunched Larvotto for expansion at sea today What do studies on the feasibility of such an extension of territory and Larvotto Fontvieille?
PAII: The government continues and completes his studies at the two sites may be selected. I made an interim report but not definitive. I can not speak on this topic at the moment. Both sites have their advantages and disadvantages. The big disadvantage of Fontvieille is the depth of the funds. It reaches 40 meters deep very quickly! It is therefore a major challenge. I want to reiterate that whatever the chosen site, it will be an extension of 4 to 5 hectares which has nothing to do with the project abandoned during the economic and financial crisis in late 2008.
MH: What were the 2010 conclusions of the expert group on the environmental impact of an extension to Larvotto?
PAII: Most projects did not meet the specifications developed by the group of environmental experts. All projects had an impact on the environment. In addition, they did not use enough techniques and construction procedures respectful of the subject or falling coralligenous Larvotto. Yet it is crucial to minimize impacts on water turbidity and current Ligure. If you block the current Ligure, for example, this causes a lot of deposits.
MH: These points will therefore be part of the specifications fixed upstream? What are the others?
PAII: Of course, the site and the project will be required to meet particularly demanding criteria of respect for the environment. I know it is very difficult and harsh but it is the only way to meet the constraints of sustainable development. In addition, an important assessment lie in the integration of the offshore extension of the urban fabric. I want the extension to be carried out, whatever the chosen site, is exemplary in terms of energy. We will ensure that the buildings that will be built make maximum use of renewable energy.
MH: What is now the urban project or another in Monaco you most at heart?
PAII: There is of course the new CHPG but in the shorter term, I can cite the Yacht Club. It will be a great center of entertainment for the Principality and a real vector attractiveness Monaco. I look forward to delivery in about 1 year. This building will be signed by Foster beautiful and iconic, with unique services, quality commercial spaces. Maybe a little oversized (smiling): it is difficult to curb large creative as Lord Foster … It is certain that it will consider optimizing these immense spaces and manage differently Yacht Club. We asked experts to make proposals, including the restoration part. A certain part of the building will be entrusted to private management. We modulerons spaces as the ballroom … So we think that the Yacht Club is operated as cleverly as possible.
As for the Tour Odéon, I did not go on the site for a long time. I think it will be ready in time for 2014. I’m sorry for any inconvenience it has caused to residents but this equipment was necessary and the final result will be up to our expectations. It will be the tallest tower in the Mediterranean and is now one of the most important sites in Europe.
MH: The results of 2012 are good, even the 2012 budget would restore balance to the closing of the accounts at the cost of some cuts on investment, culture and cooperation, which impacted the economy and triggered many reactions. What is your position on a policy of recovery?
PAII: As I said, the return to a balanced budget is essential. The installation of a structural deficit would be negative and compromising the prosperity of Monaco. The rigor of government expenditure management has been successful. For cooperation, it is true that our effort has paused given budgetary constraints. I expect my government that I submit proposals to find a growth on loans secured by 2014.
In the field of culture, private philanthropy has offset the reduction in state subsidies. But of course, if the private sector should become defective, the State will take over. While we will not, for the budget of the culture, the situation ante 3 years ago. Everyone is aware that efforts should be made even if the cuts were announced suddenly.
Public investment is an important component of our economic vitality. I’m listening to concerns and I will speak with my government, to ensure the construction industry development prospects which he aspires taking into account budgetary constraints. As soon as possible, we will resume projects put aside for reasons of economy. I think Testimonio in the north Darse or other projects, smaller in volume, but will have to do in the years to come. They will be in the next three-year program.
MH: In light of the international and European downturn, are you afraid that Monaco is more affected by the crisis in 2013? How to reduce the risk to you?
PAII: I asked my Government to take the necessary measures to mitigate the effects of the crisis. One should be careful because it would be a mistake to think that the international environment can affect the Principality. Must continue efforts in optimizing expenditure management, the implementation of actions to strengthen the state revenue such as the modernization of our economic law … I am confident in the future. I know our capabilities allow us to meet the challenges that face us as we have always done.
Society of Sea:
MH: SBM goes wrong, socially and economically. A list of employees of the same arises SBM elections to denounce the inaction of management. How to revive the company in the short term? A new management team is it called?
PAII: I had three important decisions to make by the end of the year: the appointment of the finances for the selection of the new director of the safety public – I see candidates this week – and finally the strategy to adopt for the SBM.
I am convinced that the SBM has strengths to regain its competitiveness. It is still necessary that all stakeholders play their part in the interest of this country and more widely.
The majority shareholder will take responsibility and action. A new mission is given to governance and the pulse will result from changes in the organization. Decisions will be made in the coming days. It is not necessarily a change in people, but I repeat missions in the governance of the SBM. It is also certain that the Renaissance plane that passes the next step will be impacted. It is imperative that the SBM start over on another pulse. This is at the heart of our concerns.
MH: How do you see social unrest prevailing in that particular society?
PAII: I consulted many people, I received very direct. My view of the situation is very clear. It takes a little patience, but in the coming days, there will be ads. I repeat, the second phase of the Renaissance will be put in place quickly to revive the company.
MH: In Poland, you have visited the concentration camps Jews. The commission to compensate victims of theft you should report a record of Jews deported from Monaco during the Second World War. What is it?
PAII: This is the first time I visited a camp of this magnitude. It is very moving and unfortunately indescribable. There is no word to describe the level of barbarism and planning the extermination of Jews, gypsies and disabled. In Monaco, the Commission for Assistance to Victims of Spoliation mission is to make proposals to the government, after hearing the applicant, the compensation measures that would be implemented following an arrest followed by deportation a person who stayed in Monaco during the Second World War. I recall that, until now, the government has consistently followed the recommendations of the Commission, indicating the accuracy and balance it formulates proposals. About ten cases were presented and 4 or 5 have been treated by the Commission.
MH: Return this period he represented a difficult choice?
PAII: We must look at the history straight in the eye. It seemed to me just trying to understand what happened in Monaco during this particularly dark period. That is why I requested that formed a group of experts whose mission is to shed light on these years and we help establish more accurate list of unhappy arrested in Monaco or in the region and deported while have their habitual residence or took refuge in Monaco. This group of experts includes within its members to assist victims of spoliation, given their knowledge of the issue, but also historians and scholars engaged in research. These experts are currently pursuing their work, they have not yet reached their conclusions.
MH: The DSO is leading the championship but failed capture the Coupe de France and League Cup. How do you see the results of the club since it was taken over by Dmitry Rybolovlev?
PAII: The results are certainly better than they were. The momentum of encouraging. We hope to get in L1. I also returned to training this week for them to share some words of encouragement.
MH: Can you believe Beckham’s arrival for Christmas?
PAII: Christmas with or without Beckham (smile)? More seriously, we discussed this possibility with Mr Rybolovlev and Karlsen when I came to the training center of La Turbie. Unfortunately, I can not tell you, ASM will timely as the steps it has undertaken. Next transfer window, I do not know if other acquisitions are planned for this winter. Beautiful things are against planned by next year if we go.”
And, finally last evening on Monégasque television a pre-recorded New Year message from the sovereign prince and Princess Charlene aired. Here is what the princely couple had to say:
“My dear compatriots, dear friends residents, ladies and gentlemen, the Princess and I want to express the very cordial wishes that we are for each and every one of you. We wish you this year, 2013, will bring you personal, professional and family joys.
Our thoughts are especially with those of you affect the loneliness, sorrow and disease. That the support of your loved ones helps you go through these tests. Our young people in training here or elsewhere, or who start in their professional careers, I repeat our confidence. You can help, you also, the radiation and the reputation of the Principality. A few days ago commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Constitution, I referred to the base and the pillars of our system around which manifests itself with force the national consensus: We know and must remain united on the essentials. Also appreciate the happiness that we live or work in a country of peace, safety and support.
This evening, in this regard, I also extend our wishes for success to all entities, groups or individuals the Principality and yourself are supporting in one way or another. Around us, many countries are still suffering the ups and downs of the economic crisis. I know that together with all those who by their actions, their work or their projects, demonstrate their confidence in our country’s economic and social vitality, we will have in heart to consolidate in 2013 the recovery that has begun in 2012.
[Princess Charlene] To each and every one of you, our best wishes for a wonderful year 2013.”
Photos courtesy of Monaco Matin/Palais Princier/E.Mathon