The Minister in Yugoslavia (Prince) to the Secretary of State

No. 1252

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s instruction No. 315 of September 4, 1931 (File No. 360 H. 117 Nikolich, Peter/7),10 enclosing a new draft Convention of Nationality and Military Service for submission to the Yugoslav Foreign Office, and to report that this question was recently informally discussed with Dr. Ivan Subotich, of the Legal Department of the Foreign Office, who, in reviewing the history of our pourparlers for the new treaty, emphasized the following dates and communications:

On November 26, 1921, the Legation proposed a naturalization convention, and in reply was informed that the Yugoslav Government would not be in a position to enter into any such bilateral agreement before arriving at a national law governing nationality. In 1928, the question was again brought up by the Legation, following the passing of the new Nationality Laws by the Yugoslav Parliament, and the adoption of our own Joint Resolution of 1928, inviting the President to negotiate non-recruitment pacts.

The Yugoslav Foreign Office sees three desiderata of the American Government, of importance from our standpoint in the following order. We desire first of all to obtain a naturalization convention [Page 1058] similar to our draft last submitted, and secondly, failing this, a reciprocal pact exempting our nationals of Yugoslav origin from military duties and obligations here, and finally, if neither of these arrangements proves obtainable, to arrive at an informal understanding whereby American visitors to Yugoslavia, of naturalized status and Yugoslav origin, will be free from molestation while temporarily sojourning in this country.

It now seems that a complete naturalization convention will not be possible. “The juridical system and viewpoints of the two countries on this question”, says Dr. Subotich, “are so at variance that it would probably be a waste of time and patience to press for such a convention at this time”. The Yugoslav stand is more or less in conformity with the Hague Convention of 1930,12 recognizing what is termed the “permit of expatriation”. The arguments submitted by the various countries in support of the two outstanding theses on this question fill volumes impressive in size, as the Department is aware, and the very magnitude of the effort involved in arriving at the Hague Convention, as represented by the published discussions of the representatives of the various nations, and the final adoption of the thesis which, on the point of automatic loss of original allegiance through naturalization, is in opposition to our own view, constitutes an argument for the Yugoslavs against forsaking their position to engage in a bilateral naturalization convention apparently unprofitable to themselves.

The Legation’s aide-mémoire of January 5, 1931,13 again bringing the question to the attention of the Foreign Office, was replied to orally by Acting Foreign Minister Kumanudi, who promised that a careful study would be made. I am pleased to be able to report to the Department that there appears no question that a serious examination of the matter has been made. In fact, a special commission was formed of the various interested authorities, which was divided into sub-committees for the purpose of detailed study. This commission was composed of representatives of the Foreign Office and the Ministries of Justice, War, Interior, and Social Welfare. Meetings were frequently held and I am assured that the result of the commission’s deliberations, now terminated, will be communicated officially to the Legation at a relatively early date.

The Yugoslav Military Law, translated portions of which have been furnished the Department, appears by its Art. 45 to satisfy the third desideratum above mentioned, but I believe that a definite agreement on non-recruitment may be hoped for, possibly in exchange [Page 1059] for a convention affecting the settlement of estates of Yugoslav subjects dying in the United States, on which the Foreign Office appears to have set its heart. The particular wording that appeals to the Foreign Office is that of Art. 11 of our treaty of 1829, with Austria,14 and the annex thereto of 1848,15 which of course was applicable, until the partition of the Empire, in those regions north of the Sava, now included within the Yugoslav frontiers. For additional security on this point, the Foreign Office appears to have addressed a circular instruction to certain of its consular representatives in the United States (San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Washington, probably) requiring the submission of reports expressing their opinion as to the desirability of such a convention governing the settlement of estates, if obtainable. The Foreign Office is apparently awaiting replies to this instruction, before submitting formal counter proposals in reply to the Legation’s notes submitting the Department’s new draft convention.

Respectfully yours,

John Dyneley Prince
  1. This paper is now filed under 711.60h4/20.
  2. Protocol Relating to Military Obligations in Certain Cases of Double Nationality, signed at The Hague, April 12, 1930, Foreign Relations, 1930, vol. i, p. 224.
  3. Not found in Department files.
  4. Miller, Treaties, vol. 3, p. 507.
  5. Ibid., vol. 5, p. 445.