Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, Volume II
The Serbian Chargé ( Simitch ) to the Assistant Secretary of State ( Phillips )
My Dear Mr. Assistant Secretary: Permit me to bring to your attention the enclosed copy of the Declaration of the delegates of the National Council of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes of Zagreb, which was presented in solemn audience to His Royal Highness, Prince Regent Alexander of Serbia, and forwarded to the Legation by the Serbian Government.
Please accept [etc.]
The Prime Minister of Serbia ( Protitch ) to the Serbian Chargé ( Simitch )
Yesterday evening, December 1st, (November 18th, old style) His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince Regent, received the delegation of the National Council of Zagreb, composed of twenty-seven members in solemn audience.
The delegation transmitted to His Royal Highness an address for the union in a new state of all the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes inhabitating the former Austro-Hungarian Empire with the Kingdom of Serbia in a single state of all the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
The Prince Regent Alexander, surrounded by the Ministers (Mr. Stoyan Protitch, Acting Minister of Finance, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs ad interim; Mr. Yovanovitch, Minister of the Interior; Mr. Nintchitch, Minister of Public Works; General Rachitch, Minister of War) replied to the address presented by the delegation, and accepted, in the name of the Kingdom of Serbia, its [Page 352]union with the State of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes inhabitating the territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. These two historical documents are drawn up in the following terms:
Address of the Delegation
Your Royal Highness: The National Council desires that a national representation shall be provisionally established in common accord, between the National Council and the representatives of the people of the Kingdom of Serbia, and that responsibility of the Government shall be established according to the principles of modern parliamentarism. The National Council sends this representation who shall sit in permanence until the meeting of the constituent assembly in order that the constitutional principles of parliamentary responsibility may be given their full expansion. For the same reasons the former administration and autonomous institutions will remain in vigor under the control of the Government who will be responsible for their working to the autonomous representations.
In this period of transition it will be necessary, in our opinion, to create the preliminary conditions for the definite organization of our United State. Our Government should, with this end in view, prepare the summoning of the constituent assembly which, according to the proposal of the National Council, should be elected on the basis of a direct secret and general and proportional vote, and will be convoked not later than six months after the conclusion of peace.
In this historic hour, when we present ourselves before Your Royal Highness as the representatives of the Jugoslav territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, we are profoundly grieved to be obliged to place on record that a great part of our natural soil is occupied by the troops of the Kingdom of Italy which is allied with the Powers of the Entente, and with which we desire to live in friendly relations, but we cannot recognize the opportunity of any Treaty, not even that of London which is in violation of the principles of nationality. We would be obliged to cede a part of our nation to others. We desire to draw the attention of Your Royal Highness to the fact that the extent of the Italian occupation greatly exceeds the limits and the regions foreseen in the clauses of the armistice concluded with the commander-in-chief of the Austro-Hungarian army, after the proclamation of these territories as independent, and an integral part of the Serb, Croat and Slovene State, and we will furnish the Government of Your Royal Highness with proof of this, in the full conviction that Your Royal Highness will make it his task, together with our entire nation, to see to it that the definite frontiers of our state are drawn in such a way that they accord with the ethnographical frontiers, and are in conformity with the principles laid down by President Wilson of the United States and the other powers of the Entente.
Long live His Majesty, King Peter! Long live Your Royal Highness, long live the entire nation of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, long live Jugoslavia, free and united!
His Royal Highness, the Prince Regent Alexander, pronounced the following speech:
“Gentlemen: Your arrival in the name of the National Council of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, worthy representative of our great national idea, as well as your communications of its historic decision of November 24th, by which it proclaimed the political unity of the whole nation and the entire martyred but glorious country, fills me with the most profound joy.
In receiving this communication I am convinced that by this act I fulfill my royal duties because by it alone We definitely realize what the best of the sons of our race of all the three confessions, and of the three names on both sides of the Danube, the Save and the Drina, prepared in the reign of my august grandfather, Prince Alexander, and Prince Michael, which corresponds to the vows and desires of my people.
In the name of His Majesty, King Peter, I proclaim the union of Serbia with the provinces of the independent State of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in the United Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
May this great historic act be the best recompense for your efforts and the efforts of your colleagues of the National Council and all your collaborators, who have freed you from a foreign yoke by an audacious revolution, as well as by the high conscience and by the victims from all part of our nation, represented by the National Council, which to-day lays laurels on the graves of my officers and soldiers fallen for liberty, and places the highest decorations on the breasts of their more fortunate comrades who have conquered with me and survived the victory over a powerful enemy with the generous aid of our great allies.
The glory of the victories won is shared by my old warriors and by the glorious soldiers of the Jugoslav units in my army. They all hastened to respond, and were received as one receives brothers. I thank you for this. In the name of my army, thanks!
In return for the enthusiasm with which you have expressed confidence in the Kingdom of Serbia, in the people, in my august father, His Majesty, King Peter, and in myself, I, on my side, assure you and the National Council from which you hold full powers, you and all your brothers and all my Slovene, Croat and Serb brothers, whose will and thought you represent, that I and my Government, and all that Serbia represents, will always and everywhere be guided solely by the fraternal love for your interests and for all that is sacred in the souls of those in whose name you have come to me.
I and my Government assure you of our complete acceptance of your desires which you have just laid before me. The Government will at once occupy itself with a realization of all that you have expressed regarding the transition and provisional period up to the conclusion of the labors of the constituent assembly as well as the election of that body.
Faithful to the example which the King, my father, has given me I will be solely the King of free citizens of the State of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and will always remain faithful to the great constitutional and parliamentary principles, found on the general [Page 354]rights. For this reason I ask your collaboration for the formation of a government which will represent all the united fatherland. The Government will always be in contact with you, firstly, with you, and, secondly, with the national representation. It will work with it and will be responsible to the national assembly and to the entire people.
The Government will have as its first duty to trace together with you the ethnographical frontiers of our entire nation. I have the right to hope that our great Allies will judiciously appreciate our point of view, for it corresponds to the principles they have themselves proclaimed, and for which they have poured out so much blood. I am persuaded that the work of the liberty of the world will not be humiliated by the placing of so many of our valiant brothers under a new yoke. I further hope that this point of view will also be admitted by the Italian Government, for that country owes its birth to the same principles which were so brilliantly interpreted by the pens and the acts of her great sons during the last century. I am not afraid to say that in the respect for these principles and traditions and in the sentiments of our friendship the Italian people will find more well being and security than in the realization of the Treaty of London, signed without you and never recognized by us, and made under circumstances where no one foresaw the collapse of Austria-Hungary.
In this work and everywhere else I hope that our people will remain united and powerful to the end, and will enter on its new life proud and worthy of the greatness and happiness which await it.
I beg the honorable delegates to carry my royal word and my greetings to all my dear brothers, to all the Jugoslavs, free and united. Long live the entire Serb, Croat and Slovene people! May our Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes always be happy and glorious!”
The address to the Prince Regent was signed by the two Vice-Presidents of the National Council of Zagreb, Dr. Ante Pavelitch and Svetozar Pribitchevitch, and the other members of the Council.
The reply to the address was signed by the Crown Prince Alexander, and countersigned by the Minister of Finance, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs ad interim, Mr. Stoyan Protitch, and the other ministers at present at Belgrade.