ITT Special: His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Georg von Habsburg

Nov 1, 2017

His grandfather was the last emperor and king of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his father was the last Crown Prince of the Austrian Empire and one of the founders of the European Union. But His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Georg von Habsburg doesn’t rest on his family’s history. He currently serves as ambassador-at-large in the office of the President of Hungary, and has expertise in European politics and business.

His Imperial and Royal Highness Georg von Habsburg-Lothringen sat down with Inside Texas Tech for a wide-ranging interview about European politics and business.

The Archduke says globalization is misunderstood and that it’s important and valuable to look at the effects of it, rather than the word itself. He says the world has shrunk and is more interconnected because of transportation, communication, and commerce between continents.

“I think like always, it is lack of knowledge because we talk about globalism without being closer to defining it. People just do no know what it means,” he says. “You have some politicians that are pro-globalism, and you have some who are against globalization and they play a lot with the feelings of the people.”

The Archduke says he initially backed Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s borders open to migrants from Syria. But he says keeping them open has given rise to ultra Nationalist movements in some EU countries, where people have concerns about terrorism.

“I’m very critical of the decisions she has taken. In particular, her approach towards immigration. I think it is very dangerous, what she did. Because seeing now, all of this ultra-nationalist movements grow in many European Union countries, they wouldn’t have had such success without this uncontrolled migration that was triggered by Germany.

It is a humanitarian crisis. The difference is, I agree with the German chancellor that at the time she opened the borders and received so many migrants, it was the right decision—and I was in favor of this decision—but it should have been a decision that would time-wise limit it.”

The Archduke said he believes the situation in Catalonia and its seeking independence from Spain could hurt that economy of the region. He says there are American investors in Catalonia who are “extremely unhappy” about the region’s push for independence.

“It makes everybody nervous who has an investment in Catalonia. You’ve seen the numbers, how many big companies and how many big banks have left Catalonia and moved…why? Because they want to have stability.”

Turning to Russia and its propaganda efforts, the Archduke says it is a big fear in EU countries but he doesn’t believe it’s an attempt to undermine democracies. He says countries need to deal with it intelligently.

“It is only taking forward Russian politics. Russians have always been fantastic in communication, well, slash fake news, so they have been really great in doing that. This is a heritage of the soviet union,” he says.

The Archduke says the UK faces huge challenges from the Brexit vote. In pursuing unilateral trade agreements, the country would need to negotiate 759 pacts with 163 countries.

“For them and all my British friends, I hope, yes, looking at it very practically I just don’t see how they will be able to do this. It’s a question of time.”