Press release - 14 November 2019
Hereditary Prince Alois Liechtenstein has been awarded a golden medal of Mendel University in Brno
Today, Mendel University awarded an outstanding award to Alois Liechtenstein for the contribution of his family to science, education and landscape in Moravia. The university has awarded the golden medal on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.
Alois Liechtenstein, who performs the function of the head of state in the Principality, participated in the ceremony in person. In his speech, he reminded the prominent role which his family played in the past when forming the system of higher agricultural education as well as in the agriculture and forestry in Moravia. "The Liechtenstein family considered Moravia their home for 800 years. Those who feel responsible, naturally want their home to stand up and prosper on a long-term basis. To reach this objective, we had to connect the focus on long-term goals and sustainability with inventiveness and the spirit of enterprise," Prince Alois said today in Brno.
Mendel University awards the golden medals to appreciate the contribution to the development of science and education, sustainable agriculture, forestry and rural culture. The other awardee is Constantin Kinský whose family is also an example of excellent forest and landscape managers.
The Liechtenstein family laid the foundations of important institutions which are today part of Mendel University. In 1895, Jan II Liechtenstein established the Higher Fruit-Growing and Horticulture School in Lednice which, after several decades, became the Faculty of Horticulture of the University in Brno. In 1912, Jan II founded the Plant-breeding Institute of J. G. Mendel and fully financed its operations for the first ten years. Also, this outstanding research institution is today, under the name "Mendeleum - the Institute of Genetics" part of the Faculty of Horticulture of Mendel University. Apart from that, Jan II Liechtenstein provided the Lake Castle (Rybniční zámek) to the College of Agriculture, the predecessor of the current university, to establish a scientific and research centre open for public.
Danuše Nerudová, the rector of Mendel University, reminded the exceptionality of the original mixed forests founded by the Liechtenstein family and today owned by MENDELU: "In the time when forests wither, our school company can present examples of more resistant forest vegetations which are rarely found on such large areas in this country These forests were founded in the time when the family of Liechtenstein was managing the land," said Nerudová. As Prince Alois said in Brno today, it is not a coincidence, that forests founded by his family, today serve as examples of good forest management. The focus on long-term visions together with a goal-driven patience is found in all Liechtenstein activities: "We sometime say that our family has survived all the centuries because we started our sustainable approach already in 1136 and we have never abandoned it."
Eight-centuries' engagement of the Liechtenstein family in Moravia was ended by the confiscation of properties of all citizens of Liechtenstein in 1945 after they were, in conflict with reality, marked as Germans. However, the family continued to be intensively dealing with agriculture, forestry and related innovations and again managed to build a successful business despite very big property losses. Today, the Liechtenstein family, through the Prince of Liechtenstein Foundation, owns many agriculture and forest companies in Austria and other countries. LIECO company is the market leader in Austria, producing resistant forestry container seedlings. RiceTec, another family company, is an innovative enterprise specialized on advanced seed technology. It is the American market leader in the field. The family portfolio also includes several companies producing energy from renewable sources.
Today in Brno, hereditary Prince Alois expressed his hope that the open issues related to the illegal confiscation of the Liechtenstein properties in Czechoslovakia after World War II will be settled. He expressed his wish that both the countries could in future establish a close connection which had existed between the Czech countries and his family for centuries: "Once the circumstances are ready, we will be ready too to have again a much more fruitful role for Mendel University, Moravia and the Czech Republic."
In the past thirty years, the Liechtenstein family has been repeatedly trying to re-open the discussion with the Czech state which would correct the unjust confiscation of properties from the Liechtenstein citizens. However, the efforts have not received any response from the Czech side. In December 2018, the Prince of Liechtenstein Foundation was therefore made to file a legal motion against the Czech state before the legitimate claim is finally lost due to an expired deadline. The Foundation claims the restoration of confiscated properties with the exception of those which are today held by private entities, municipalities, villages, regions, churches and universities.
The hereditary Prince Alois is the oldest from four children of the reigning Prince Hans Adam II. Since 2004 he has performed the function of the head of state of the Principality of Liechtenstein for his father. He studied at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst and served in troops in Hong Kong and London. Later he studied law and worked for a bank in London. Since 1997 he has been managing the family assets. With his wife Sophie, the Princess of Bavaria, they have four children.