President Ivanov awards Otto von Habsburg with Medal of Merit
Monday, 17 January 2011
Otto von Habsburg, the eldest son of Charles I, the last Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, is awarded with the Medal of Merit of Macedonia under a decision of President Gjorge Ivanov.
The decoration is a recognition of Otto von Habsburg's personal engagement, as former chair of the Pan-European Union and member of the European Parliament, in promoting Macedonia's European future.
The medal will be presented to Otto von Habsburg's son Georg on January 18.
Otto von Habsburg, born in 1912, became Crown Prince of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia in 1916 when his father, Archduke Charles, ascended to the throne. However, in 1918, at the end of the First World War, the monarchies were abolished, the Republics of Austria and Hungary founded instead, and the family was forced into exile.
Otto von Habsburg spent the following years in Switzerland and in Madeira, where Karl died prematurely in 1922, making him pretender to the throne at the age of ten. Meanwhile, the Austrian parliament had officially expelled the Habsburg dynasty and confiscated all the official property (Habsburgergesetz of April 3, 1919). In 1935 he graduated from the University of Louvain, having studied social and political science. Otto spent most of the war years in Washington (1940-1944), after escaping from Austria to Portugal with a visa issued by the Portuguese consul in Bordeaux Aristides de Sousa Mendes. A fervent patriot, he had opposed the Nazi "Anschluss" of Austria of 1938 and also fought Hitler's regime from America. After the war, he lived in exile in France and Spain.
Well after the end of the Second World War, Otto von Habsburg finally renounced all claims to the Austrian throne (1961) and was eventually allowed to return to his home country in 1966.
An early advocate of a unified Europe, Otto was president of the International Pan European Union from 1973 to 2004, the oldest European unification movement. He served from 1979 till 1999 as a Member of the European Parliament for the conservative Bavarian CSU party, becoming the Senior Member of the supranational body.
Today, Otto von Habsburg lives near Munic