File No. 763.72119/2229

The Special Agent at Corfu ( Dodge ), temporarily at Rome, to the Secretary of State

No. 113

Sir: Referring to my despatch No. 107, of the 26th ultimo,1 reporting, in accordance with your telegram of August 7, 6 p.m.,2 regarding the position of the Serbian Government as to the character of the relation to be established between Serbia and the Yugo-Slav provinces of Austria-Hungary in the event that the latter obtain their freedom,—I have the honor to inform you that shortly before leaving Corfu I had a conversation upon this subject with Mr. Stoyan Protitch, Acting President of the Council and Minister for Foreign Affairs. Mr. Protitch is generally considered to be closer to Mr. Pashitch than any other of his colleagues and comes immediately after Mr. Pashitch in importance in the Radical Party, which is now in power.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

… I inquired of Mr. Protitch as to his views regarding the constitution of a future Yugo-Slav state. Mr. Protitch replied that the foundations for such a state must lie in the Declaration of Corfu, although this declaration might be made even more democratic. All the present Yugo-Slav portions of Austria-Hungary would enjoy absolute political equality with Serbia and there could be no possibility of any Serbian hegemony or superiority of any sort. Serbia moreover desired no such superiority. He saw no reason why sooner or later Bulgaria should not also join the Yugo-Slav state if she agreed to come in on the same footing as the others. Bulgarians spoke a tongue closely allied to Serbian and there was no very great racial difference between Bulgarians and Serbians, although the former had a considerable admixture of Turanian blood. This [Page 853] would be the logical solution and he greatly hoped it would some day be possible.

Regarding the details of the form of government, these must naturally be left to be decided by the constitutional convention which would be called and elected (as all elections were prescribed to be made by the Declaration of Corfu) by equal, direct, secret and universal ballot. His own idea was, however, that the future state must possess strength. The central Government must, therefore, control military, naval and foreign affairs, national finances and national economic and commercial matters. Also, the civil and criminal law must be uniform for the whole state. Outside of these matters, the rest and all local matters must be left to local assemblies. The administrative divisions of the state might remain as at present, each division having its local assembly, or the present divisions might be somewhat modified or possibly entirely new divisions might be made: All this depended upon the decisions of the constitutional convention. The central Government would be a ministry, responsible to Parliament as at present. Parliament itself might well be composed of two Chambers instead of one Chamber as at present.

Mr. Protitch emphasized the democratic character of the new state and the absolute equality of all its inhabitants and territories.

I have also recently had an interview with General Rachitch, Minister of War, in which I was able to turn the conversation to the same subject. General Rachitch stated that it was quite impossible to go into any details at present as all of these must be settled by the constitutional convention. Nevertheless, he might say that the new state must, of course, be built upon thoroughly democratic principles and upon the outlines so clearly laid down in the Declaration of Corfu. Complete equality would be guaranteed to all portions of the territories and their inhabitants. Serbia must enjoy no position in the new state in any way privileged or different from the other portions. If Serbia should become pre-eminent in the new state it would only be through the individual merits of her population.

Several of my colleagues with whom I have talked on this subject express the opinion that the present Serbia, in the possible future state, will tend to be over-shadowed by Croatia which is only slightly smaller in population and is far more advanced educationally, economically and financially. Croatia has also suffered far less than Serbia in the present and recent Balkan wars. In addition to enormous losses of productive capital, Serbia, it is generally assumed, has lost fully one-quarter of her population since the first Balkan War.

I have [etc.]

H. Percival Dodge
  1. Ante, p. 828.
  2. Ante, p. 823.