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

No. 128

Sir: In my telegram of the 9th. instant, 2 p.m.2 I mentioned the receipt of the following documents; copy of a radio communication [Page 288]received by Vice Admiral Gauchet, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Naval Forces in the Mediterranean, from the Yugo-Slav Delegate at Cattaro and copy of the Vice Admiral’s reply; certified copy of the formal act of surrender by the Austro-Hungarian Government of its fleet to the Delegates of the Yugo-Slav National Council of Agram (Zagreb); and copy of a letter received by the Naval Commander-in-Chief from the Yugo-Slav Provincial Government of Dalmatia regarding the landing of Italian forces in Dalmatia. Although these documents may have reached the Department from other channels, as they are of considerable interest I am enclosing other copies of them, which I have made, herewith.3

I am endeavoring to keep the Department informed by telegraph of all the information which I am able to obtain here regarding the formation of the new Yugo-Slav Government (the “National Council of the Slovenes, Croatians and Series” at Agram (Zagreb)), the negotiations between it and the Serbian Government for some form of union, and the movements of the Italian forces which are a source of considerable alarm to both the Serbian Government and the National Council. Events are moving on so fast that it seems useless to report them by mail. I may however amplify what I have already reported as to the new Yugo-Slav National Council by the following information given to me by Mr. Tressic-Pavisic, the Delegate of that Government who has recently been here: the National Council’s authority extends at present over all the former Yugo-Slav Provinces of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Each of these former Provinces has established a local Council, chosen from the Yugo-Slav leaders of the former Province. The National Council is made up of seventy delegates from all these Provinces and has chosen from its members about thirty delegates who form a sort of executive Committee. This Committee has in turn selected from itself a sort of Cabinet consisting of about seventeen persons. The President of the National Council is Dr. Korochetz, a Roman Catholic priest from Slovenia and formerly the President of the political group in the Austrian Reichsrat known as the “Yugo-Slav Club”. The Vice President of the National Council is a Mr. Pribicevitch, one of the two Pribicevitch brothers who have for many years been identified with the Yugo-Slav movement in Croatia. It will be remembered that these brothers were the principal accused in the famous Friedjung trial held at Agram in 1909. Another brother, Colonel Pribicevitch, was employed in the United States last year by the Serbian Government in recruiting Yugo-Slavs, and is now in the Serbian army.

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In his discussions regarding some form of union between the Serbian Government and the Yugo-Slav National Council at Geneva, Mr. Pashitch has had with him four of the principal leaders of the Opposition groups in the Serbian Skupschtina: Mr. Marinkovitch, leader of the Progressive group, Mr. Draschkovitch, leader of one fraction of the Young Radical group, Mr. Davidovitch, leader of the other Young Radical fraction, and Mr. Trifkovitch, leader of the Dissident group. The Yugo-Slav delegates included Dr. Korochetz, Mr. Chingria and Mr. Trumbitch, the last the President of the Yugo-Slav Committee of London. I am informed that the Geneva discussions are now continuing at Paris and are expected to end in a few days. My telegrams have advised the Department of the two plans for union desired by different leaders, a single Cabinet or the present two Cabinets with a central body for common affairs only, either including members of the two Cabinets or only Ministers for these common affairs having no seats in the Serbian and Yugo-Slav Cabinets. Certain personal ambitions (that of Mr. Trumbitch is especially mentioned) are urging the separate Cabinets with some central body. Of course all these plans are only temporary and until the definitive form of the union is determined by a constitutional convention to be held as soon as circumstances permit.

The reconquest of Serbia and the determination of these questions of Yugo-Slav unity have made the formation of a coalition Cabinet for Serbia absolutely essential. Mr. Pashitch has shown his realization of this necessity by calling in the Opposition leaders to participate in the discussions above mentioned. A coalition Cabinet is also practically agreed upon, so I am informed, and I learn that its members will probably be the following: Mr. Pashitch, Old Radical, President of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Gavrilovitch, belonging to no party but having Young Radical tendencies, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Protitch, Old Radical, Minister of Finance, Mr. Yankovitch, Old Radical, Minister of Commerce and Agriculture, General Rashitch, belonging to no party, Minister of War, Mr. Trifkovitch, Dissident, Minister of the Interior, Mr. Voulovitch, Young Radical, Minister of Public Works, Mr. Davidovitch, Young Radical, Minister of Public Instruction, and Mr. Marinkovitch, Progressive, Minister of Justice. It is quite probable that some changes in this list will still be made and there is a likelihood that some new portfolios may be created, as Minister of Food Supply and Minister of Railways, so as to take in a couple of other prominent political men. The list as it stands includes the leaders of all the political parties except the Liberal, the former Austrophile party. It shows that both Mr. Pashitch and the Opposition leaders have made concessions beyond what they were willing to concede during the parliamentary [Page 290]crisis of last Winter: Mr. Pashitch has agreed to giving over the portfolio of Foreign Affairs to a “neutral” and the Opposition leaders have agreed to allowing Mr. Protitch to remain in office, although they have apparently obliged Mr. Yovanovitch to retire. It will be remembered, as formerly reported, that Mr. Yovanovitch is extremely obnoxious to certain leaders of the Opposition on account of the part which he played in gathering the evidence for the Salonica “Black Hand” trial. It may be noted that Mr. Davidovitch, the probable new Minister of Public Works, belongs to that fraction of the Young Radical party which is generally supposed to have had dealings with the “Black Hand” society. Under normal circumstances it might well be doubted whether such a Cabinet would have much permanency but at present the case may be different. All the Old Radicals mentioned for the new Cabinet are members of the present all Old Radical Cabinet. Mr. Protitch, the present, and possibly future, Minister of Finance, is the strongest man in the Old Radical party after Mr. Pashitch.

Although telegraphic communications are slow and the Serbian Ministers are scattered in Paris, Corfu, Uskub (Skoplje) and Belgrade, what news is actually received here is stated to show the most enthusiastic desire of all the former Yugo-Slav provinces for union with Serbia. Delegations are stated to have come to Belgrade from Bosnia-Herzegovina asking for immediate union but they were told that they should direct their efforts through the National Council at Agram. The Serbian Government desires the recognition of the Agram Government by the Entente and the United States and I am informed has addressed a circular in this sense to these Powers. The character of the future Government I am told is desired to be democratic but Monarchical, under the House of Karageorgevitch, by a large majority of the Yugo-Slav population although the Yugo-Slavs in the United States are stating to be making strong efforts to have a republican form of Government adopted.

The most disquieting element in the present situation is the attitude assumed by Italy which threatens to produce an open collision with the Yugo-Slavs in Dalmatia and Montenegro. Thus far Italian forces are apparently the only ones of the Entente which have landed in these regions and the effect of this has been extremely irritating and alarming to the population. The attitude of the population is in no way hostile to a joint landing of the Entente forces but only to the Italians being allowed to act alone. This appears now to be realized and to be in a fair way to be corrected. The landing of American forces would be especially agreeable and quieting to the population. In this connection I may mention that the feeling between Italians and French at Corfu has become very bitter. Lately four large Italian battleships have arrived here whereas until their arrival there were only occasionally [Page 291]small Italian cruisers here. Since their unexpected arrival their Commander has acted on several occasions with singular tactlessness towards the French Commanding Vice Admiral.

I have [etc.]

H. Percival Dodge