The Yugoslav Embassy to the Department of State

The Royal Yugoslav Embassy has been instructed by the Yugoslav Government in London to publish the declaration which was unanimously adopted by the Yugoslav Cabinet. After the adoption of the declaration by all the groups represented in the Yugoslav Government, the personal question was raised about the Prime Minister, Mr. Jovanović, against which Mr. Krnjević, vice-president of the Council, and Mr. Šutej, Minister of Finance (two Croat members of the Government) have taken stand. This action opened the present crisis of the Yugoslav Government. The declaration reads as follows:

“Everything seems to indicate that we are entering, if not the final, at least the decisive phase of this war. This compels us to establish clearly and precisely our war aims and to state emphatically the general outlines of our policy. Conversations have already taken place between our Government and the British Government to synchronize the activity of our guerillas with military action of the Allies in the Balkans. It would not however appear sufficient to coordinate the military activity; what is needed is to develop the coordination of our political activity by bringing Yugoslav war aims within the framework of the policy of our great Allies.

Our war aims are determined by all that has happened. After the enslavement and the dismemberment of Yugoslavia no Yugoslav Government could have but one policy: the liberation of Yugoslavia and the reestablishment of its unity as a State. This is a vital necessity for all Yugoslavs and this is what is required by the principles of international justice for the realisation of which the United Nations are fighting. The Yugoslav Government has left its native land because it wanted to fight the enemy to the end and because it wanted to maintain its solidarity with the western democracies. By this very fact it clearly set forth its war aims and the essential lines of its policy.

Despite all differences of opinion we are convinced that we all realize at present, as we did already two years ago, that a Yugoslav line of policy is the only possible one. In carrying out this Yugoslav policy we best serve the real interests of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. True, after the experience of the last twenty odd years, many people consider that it is not possible to restore Yugoslavia on the basis of the complete ethnic unity of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. But, if experience has demonstrated that there exist a Serb nationalism, a Croat nationalism and a Slovene nationalism, which have to be taken into account, it does not follow that it would be necessary to dismember Yugoslavia in order to establish in its place a Serb state, a Croat state and a Slovene state. Twenty-five years ago the Serbs, the Croats and the Slovenes, each struggling for their respective liberties, realized that they would not achieve them except by uniting their forces. Today this is even more evident than it was twenty-five years ago. We are entering the era of great political and economic units, the era of unions and blocks. If the plan of our enemies to separate the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes from one another should [Page 1013]succeed, each of them would no doubt find themselves drawn into community with one or several other states. It is equally certain that the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes would in such a community, or in such communities, find less favorable conditions for their individual national development than they have found in Yugoslavia, which although not constituting the expression of their complete ethnic unity is nevertheless that of their great ethnic similarity. The following formula was once used by a Serb: A powerful Serbia in a powerful Yugoslavia, which means that there can be neither a powerful Serbia without a powerful Yugoslavia nor a powerful Yugoslavia without a powerful Serbia. This same formula might equally well be used in respect of Croatia and Slovenia.

The more the decisive phase of the war approaches the more we have to emphasize these basic ideas when addressing ourselves to our Allies or to our people. We must however bear in mind the following facts: During its long course the present war has changed its character in respect of all the United Nations as compared with the early stages. This war is no longer merely a defensive war against the Axis; it is a war for a new order which would on the one hand secure for the peoples the necessary guarantees that there would be no wars any more—i.e. international peace—and on the other hand that there would be no economic crises nor unemployment any more—i.e. social peace. In order to be able to count upon a total aid of her Allies Yugoslavia should demonstrate that she desires and is capable of a collaboration with them for the establishment of such a new order. To this end she must, like the other United Nations, thoroughly revise her institutions in the spirit of a rejuvenated democracy. The people must however themselves decide upon this revision of their institutions. Anyhow from the present course of events it would appear justifiable to assume that the era of centralism has passed and that the future inclines towards a more or less federal solution which would permit the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes to collaborate with each other in the realization of their common political aims without renouncing however their ethnic individuality. Such an organization would most conform to the democratic ideology as conceived at present by the United Nations.

Finally it should be mentioned that Yugoslavia did not enter the war in a spirit of conquest. But the Atlantic Charter gives her the right to ask that all the regions which have a purely Yugoslav character and which are today under foreign and hostile dominion should revert to her.

The restoration of a Yugoslavia greater and stronger and organized in a more democratic spirit, these are the war aims which every Yugoslav Government must have in view. These aims have been set forth on several occasions in declarations of the King and of the Government. They have particularly been stressed in the King’s speech delivered on the first of December 1942.58 But today as we enter the decisive phase of the war it is our duty to emphasize anew these aims as a common idea around which all the Serbs, all the Croats and all the Slovenes must unite in these historic days.”

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This declaration has been endorsed by all the groups in the Yugoslav Government and can therefore be considered as an evidence of the agreement between the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes upon the basic problems of Yugoslav state policy.—Jovanović, Yugoslav Foreign Minister.

  1. See telegram Yugoslav Series No. 8, December 2, 1942, from the Ambassador to the Yugoslav Government in Exile, Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. iii, p. 831.