Memorandum Prepared in the Division of Southern European Affairs
The Yugoslav Negotiations
The question of the Regency Council is still the chief obstacle to a settlement along the lines of the Subasic-Tito agreement.[Page 1196]
On February 4 Ambassador Patterson reported71 that King Peter had nominated General Dusan Simovich (Serb, chosen by military leaders of coup d’etat in March 1941 to form a Government in opposition to Axis), Dr. Juraj Sutej (Croat, Minister of Finance, “number three” in Croatian Peasant Party) and Mr. Dusan Sernec (Slovene, member of Tito’s National Committee of Liberation) to serve as members of the Regency Council, and that their names had been telegraphed to Tito for concurrence.
On February 5,72 Tito told the OSS representative at Belgrade that he would under no circumstances accept Sutej (in whose stead he had suggested Ante Mandic); and that he was agreeable to Sernec and Simovich. Tito thought the King was “stalling”, perhaps believing in American support, and stated that material was being collected to try the King for his “crimes”, culminating in his January 11 declaration. Tito also indicated his belief that only the United States would refuse recognition to his Government if King Peter refused to sign the Agreement. The OSS representative suggested that Tito’s statements may have been designed to provoke official American reaction, rather than to express his genuine convictions.
On February 673 Ambassador Patterson was told by King Peter that Subasic had stated that General Simovich and Dr. Sutej were unacceptable. Subasich referred to an alleged “unsigned letter” written by Simovich in April 1941 offering military support to Germany. Subasich also told the King (apparently on instructions from Tito) that Simovich and Sutej “must be replaced” by Sreten Vukosavljevich (Serb, Minister of Agriculture, member of Tito’s Anti-Fascist Council) and Ante Mandich (Croat, member of Tito’s Anti-Fascist Council). The King insisted on retaining Sutej. He said he would not sanction the Government’s departure for Belgrade until he had appointed the Regents; and that if the Government departed without permission he would publish a White Paper.
Although the Foreign Office had advised Lord Halifax that the Yugoslav Government would leave for Belgrade on February 7 whether or not an agreement had been reached, Ambassador Patterson reported on February 6 that the departure had been postponed for “several days”.