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Pogledaj Full Version : The Croatian Problem - by Dr. August Kossutitch



Željko Zidarić
4th-June-2012, 02:59 AM
International Affairs
(Royal Institute of International Affairs 1931-1939)
Vol. 12, No.1 (Jan., 1933), pp. 79-106
Download PDF (http://domovod.info/zzfiles/res/CroatianProblem-Kussutitch1933.pdf)


By DR. AUGUST KOSSUTITCH

I THINK the best way in which I can express my appreciation of the invitation to speak at this Institute is to tell you the truth in regard to the conditions prevailing in our part of Europe, and to explain how they arose. In so doing, I shall also hope to point out the elements from which a permanent and practical policy for that part of Europe in which the Great War originated may be constructed.

At the outset, I shall dwell on the present situation. Foreign observers, journalists, politicians, men of science, writers, merchants and tourists whose impartiality and competence are beyond doubt, are unanimously agreed in all their articles, reports, etc., that the situation is critical. They are told by their friends within the boundaries of Yugoslavia that conditions there are unbearable and that the menace of a catastrophe is ever present. I feel I am justified in saying from my own personal knowledge that the situation is serious and grave.

At present, Yugoslavia is practically an absolute monarchy, the only one of its kind in existence in Europe to-day. All power is vested in the hands of the King; he has the right to appoint Cabinet Ministers, who are responsible to him alone; he has power to contract international treaties and political alliances; he can declare war and make peace. He has bestowed upon the State a constitution, but does not bind himself in any way to submit to its rulings. The ruler is an absolute autocrat, a dictator whose power rests on the medieval principle of armed force under the guise of "The grace of God." Since the recent revolution in Spain, there is no parallel in any part of Europe of such a type of monarchy, nor does there exist any similar dictatorship throughout the whole world.

Soviet Russia and Italy are to-day regarded as the two principal representatives of the dictatorial system of government. Soviet Russia is under the dictatorship of the Communist Party, which is non-national in its conception, and which is founded on the doctrine of class warfare. On the other hand, as an antithesis to this dictatorship, stands that of the National Socialist or Fascist Party in Italy. Both of them are gradually bringing into operation new forms of State organisation and social relations. They both maintain that parliaments and democracy are institutions which have long since outlived their useful purposes. Both types inspire movements similar to themselves beyond their own frontiers, and both consider that they carry a message of hope to the rest of the world.

Let us ignore at present the reasons which led to such systems of government in Russia and Italy-it is sufficient to state here, in the first place, that they had their foundation in the internal conditions which prevailed amongst the Russian and Italian peoples; secondly, that their motive power is the social and not the political problem; and thirdly, that their aim is not the settlement of international questions, in spite of their tendency to endeavour to convert the rest of the world by means of propaganda.

If we mention at the same time the dictatorships which exist in Turkey, Poland and Hungary, the first of which appears to be a kind of Turkish reformation, the second a Polish example of an European anachronism, and the third a reaction to Hungarian Bolshevism, we shall have at our disposal a large field for study and comparison.

But the royal dictatorship of the King of Serbia has no affinity of ideas with any of the above-mentioned dictatorships. It has no desire to reform the rest of the world. It does not seek to impose its creed on other nations. Its inception did not come from the people, but from above. Its motive power is not social, but political, and its aims are not the settlement of internal Serbian matters, but of the inter-national problems as between the Croat and Serb nations.

The King of Serbia has taken on himself the task of solving this problem by violently converting the Commonwealth of the South Slav peoples into a Greater Serbia. But the main obstacle to Serbia's plans was, and is still, Croatia, to whom the other oppressed peoples looked as their guard, protector and hope; and in consequence, the first step to be taken by the King of Serbia was an attempt to break the resistance of the Croats by force.

To Belgrade, it seemed that the most suitable moment for this had come after the murder of Stephen Raditch in the Belgrade Parliament of 1928. It was thought that any further resistance of the Croats, now deprived of their leader, against Pan-Serbian plans would be hopeless, and that any such resistance would be rapidly and definitely crushed by a regime of royal dictatorship, which was in fact proclaimed on the 6th January, 1929.

It is interesting to note here that Serbia had previously attempted to obtain the same results by imposing a so-called democratic regime on the Croatian and other peoples on the 29th June, 1921. The problem is, therefore, not merely a question of a form of government, nor of a system of rule, nor of dictatorship or democracy. It is an inter-national problem, which is a much deeper and more far-reaching question.

It is the problem of the elements which drove Turkey out of Europe and which broke Central Europe into pieces; Serbia is unfortunately trying to settle it, not only by repeating the fatal mistakes of Austrian and Hungarian domination, but at the same time by using the reckless methods of the Turk, by crimes and atrocities, the results of which any stranger can see from the graves and prisons, and from the spiritual and material condition in which Croatia and the Croat people are at present.

Persons well acquainted with these matters, and who have followed closely the political action of Serbia during the War, and even more since 1918, have noticed that Serbia has no inclination for a constructive policy of cautious compromise, goodwill and cooperation, but rather that she is opposed to the formation of a State in which she would have only the same rights as the other components. The Western Allied countries had hoped that, as a result of practice and collaboration, an understanding would be reached with the Croat people, who, with the other South Slav peoples from Austro-Hungary, form the majority of the population and who were endeavouring to attain independent national unity. But Serbia's actions have produced the opposite effect, and have brought into prominence the question of the international status of this post-War formation, a question which is once more threatening to give rise to another world catastrophe.

The political failure of the royal dictatorship is an accomplished fact. The result of the compulsory Yugoslavism has been to render it impossible for a long and indefinite period of time for any action to be taken by the people which would have as its aim any kind of Yugoslavism - whether national or political. There is no doubt that the monarchy and the dynasty have also been compromised by the dictatorship-and there remains the fact that Croatia and Serbia have never been subject to such psychological and moral estrangement as at present.

We now come to the question of what ought to be done in order to avoid the ruin which is threatening these small nations as the consequence of the dictatorship of the King of Serbia. They expected, and deserve, a better fate in return for the enormous sacrifices they made for freedom and independence. This question is all the more important because we are very anxious to preserve international peace, which is now more than ever essential to the interests of Europe and civilisation.

It is for these reasons that we must make a short survey of the factors which led up to the crisis in regard to the community of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as constituted by the Great Powers on the 10th September, 1919, by the Treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye; in the first place, we must examine the provisions of the Treaty, which read:

" Whereas the Serb, Croat and Slovene peoples of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy have of their own free will determined 1 to unite with Serbia in a permanent union for the purpose of forming a single sovereign independent State under the title of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and

" Whereas the Prince Regent of Serbia and the Serbian Government have agreed to this union, and in consequence the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes has been constituted and has assumed sovereignty over the territories inhabited by these peoples, and ...

" Whereas the Serb-Croat-Slovene State of its own free will desires to give to the populations of all territories included within the State, of whatever race, language or religion they may be ,full guarantees that they shal/ 1 continue to be governed in accordance with the principles of liberty and justice; "

A new State was created by this international act after the Great War, bearing the name of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes-which is at present, by an arbitrary Decree of the King of Serbia of the 3rd October, 1929, called Yugoslavia, and as such is a Member of the League of Nations at Geneva.

It must be said in connection with this international treaty, first that the Powers forgot their ally, Montenegro, an independent and sovereign State, which by this act disappeared without any ceremony from the list of independent States. Up to the present there is no international act under which Montenegro ceased to be an independent and sovereign State. Secondly, that the Belgrade act of the 1st December, 1918, which provides for the union of Serbia, Croatia and the other Habsburg countries -which is quoted in the Treaty of St. Germain-has no international value at all, since it was never adopted by the representatives of those peoples, nor has it ever been submitted for their approval. This fictitious act has neither judicial nor moral compulsory power, and it cannot be taken as a basis for an international treaty, the more so because a protest against it was actually sent to President Wilson by the Croat people, signed by Stephen Raditch, President of the Croat Peasant Party, with the object of drawing the attention of the international conference to the real state of affairs.

The Great Powers were deceived, and made their decisions on the basis of false documents, on which they prepared an international treaty. A judicial murder was by this act committed on the States of Montenegro and Croatia, and just reparation is called for. As this matter is of the greatest importance in regard to what follows, I will give a brief explanation of the position at that time.

Two different types of movement were in progress for the formation of the Commonwealth of the South Slav peoples; one movement was conducted by Serbia, who was of the opinion that the new State must be a Serbia, increased by those countries from the dissolved Austro-Hungarian Empire, which, she alleged, she had liberated through the War. The other movement was headed by Croatia, who, like Czechoslovakia, proclaimed herself on the 29th October, 1918, an independent sovereign country on the basis of the new international principle of self-determination of nations. Croatia organised all the other territories inhabited by Croats and Slovenes into a Federated State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (it is the Serbs incorporated in Croat provinces, the Pretchane, who are meant here). This new federated State was recognised by Serbia in its note of the 8th November, 1918, signed by the Prime Minister of Serbia. This State had its capital at Zagreb, where the Narodno Vjece was acting as the legislative body, with its executive committee as Cabinet.
To open the way for the creation of this new Commonwealth in conjunction with the Serbian and Montenegrin States, the Croat National Sabor passed on the 29th October, 1918, a resolution containing the provision that :

" A common national convention of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs shall decide by a qualified majority previously specified, which would prevent the undue influence of the majority, upon the form of State organization (republic or monarchy) as well as upon the internal State organisation (confederation or federation) which would have as its basis the full equality of rights of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes."

These principles were adopted by the Narodno Vjece (parliament) on behalf of the parts constituting the federated State of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs.

One can see that there is a fundamental difference amounting even to a contradiction between the two standpoints. The movement which was conducted by the Croats from Zagreb was open and sincere, whilst that at Belgrade was not so. Belgrade knew that the Great Powers were taking into consideration two distinct things-one was Serbia, who had to be restored and who had to receive due reparation, and the other was Yugoslavia, who began to form herself around Zagreb just as Czechoslovakia began to form round Prague. And Serbia made no other claims for herself, because she was not entitled internationally to do so. It was in this position that Serbia found herself at the beginning of the Peace Conference of Paris in 1919.

In October, 1918, on the initiative of the President of the French Republic, endeavours were made to reach an agreement between Zagreb and Belgrade, because Italy was pressing hard for a different arrangement based on the Secret Treaty of London, which had no power to bind the United States. As a result of these endeavours, the Geneva Conference was held, in which the Serb Government, the Serb opposition, the Yugoslav Committee and the representatives of the Zagreb Narodno Vjece took part.

At this conference, the agreement of the 9th November, 1918, was made and signed, and its main stipulation was that a joint ministry should be formed and preparatory work for a joint Commonwealth should be begun on the basis of full equality. Of the twelve members of this joint Cabinet, six were to be appointed by Serbia and six by the Zagreb Narodno Vjece-the Serb ministers were required to make oath to the Serb King, and those from Zagreb to the President of the Council in Zagreb.

These ministers were all appointed on the same day, but their term of office lasted only until the evening, as the Serbian Government withdrew its ministers on the same day from the joint Cabinet and began to make its secret Pan-Serbian plan. The Serbian Government applied through the Regent Alexander to Svetozar Pribicevic at Zagreb, who was the leader of the Serbs in Croatia and who was acting as second Vice-President of the Narodno Vjece, asking him to hasten the union with Serbia. This was the way in which Serbia thought she would be able to obtain the whole of the power via facti, regardless of the Geneva decisions and liabilities, and ignoring the wishes of the Allies in regard to the settlement of the Belgrade-Zagreb question. This was carried on the 1st December, 1918.

This far-reaching decision was taken by a committee which was not entitled to do so, and it was never ratified nor even submitted for ratification, as it was known that such a fatal act would never have received the sanction of the competent representatives of Croatia. To prove this, one has only to compare it with the above-mentioned decision of the 9th November, 1918, at Geneva.

This act is in conflict with the international principle of selfdetermination. It is contrary to the decisions of the Croat Parliament of the 29th October, 1918, and it contravenes the Croat national and State individuality and political traditions of a thousand years' standing.

The words in the Preamble to the Treaty of St. Germain, quoted above:
" Whereas the Serb, Croat and Slovene peoples of the former Austro* Hungarian Monarchy have of their own free will determined 1 to unite with Serbia in a permanent union ... "

did not represent the truth either at the time that they were written or at any time since. Serbia did not submit authentic documents to the Peace Conference-documents which could be regarded as a real basis for an international treaty founded on the above quotation-because no such documents exist. Further, as I have indicated above, Serbia created a state of things which was in complete contradiction to the passage quoted from the Treaty.

The real attitude of Serbia in regard to the formation of a union of States is that which she has subsequently disclosed in all her actions in the sphere of State and international affairs. And this attitude has been openly and authoritatively stated in a solemn and official manner, ten years after the so-called union, through the mouthpiece of the military elements, in an official report, which was read by General Kalafatovitch on the 6th October, 1928, to representatives of the Allied Armies and members of the Diplomatic Body at the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the victory on the Salonica front. This report contained, amongst other things, the following passage:

" The Serb troops in the west entered Scutari on the 30th October, Cettigne on the 4th November, Sarajevo on the 6th, Kotor on the 8th, Dubrovnik on the 14th, and Zagreb on the same date as Dubrovnik, where, as well as in Ljubljana, there had already been formed troops from amongst the Serbian prisoners taken by Austria, and at last on the 18th November, the Serb troops reached the northern shore of the Adriatic Sea.

"These six weeks were sufficient to free Southern and Northern Serbia, and in the course of the next two or three weeks, the Serb troops occupied Montenegro and the Yugoslav provinces of former Austria*-Hungary.

"This magnificent feat of the troops under the high command of H.R.H. the Crown Prince, bearer of the Royal power, Alexander, the present King, was crowned on the 1st December by the proclamation of the union of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes into one large Kingdom under the rule of the national and deeply revered dynasty of Karadjordjevitch."
This is a strange war communique, which by some chance has now been published, ten years after a war about which nobody knew anything, but which was triumphantly conducted by the ruler of Serbia, as high commander of the Serb troops, against Croatia and the countries which had joined her. This communique does not mention the usual figures of prisoners and booty, but since it is said that the Serbian troops occupied Montenegro and the Yugoslav provinces of former Austria-Hungary, Serbia's prisoners must be the whole Croat, Slovene and Montenegrin peoples, and her war booty, the territories of these peoples.

Having in this way brought to an end the question of the Union of the State, Serbia began the second lap, the foundation of a constitution, which would legalise the state of things that had been created. Serbia did not keep a single point of the agreements that she had made with the Croat representatives at Zagreb, Geneva and Corfu, regarding the way in which the constitution should be framed. First, the Convention should have met within six months of the unification. Serbia postponed the meeting for two years. This period was utilised by Serbia to centralise all the power in Belgrade, to dissolve the State institutions which existed in Croatia, and to secure, by armed force, terrorism and corruption, that only such a constitution should be passed as would enable her to create a Greater Serbia.

After this the Convention was called, but its sovereignty was limited; first there could be no discussion as regards the form of State rule; the Serb monarch and the Serb dynasty of Karadjordjevitch had to remain, and members of the Convention had to take oath of allegiance to the King of Serbia if they wanted to take part in the discussions of the Convention.

The constitution was voted by an unqualified majority. The electoral lists were drawn up, after the census of 1910 specially held for the purpose, so as to give the Serbs a larger number of representatives in the Convention. The elections were corruptly conducted, and terrorism prevailed on a scale hitherto unknown, with the object of seeing that the Serb minority had an obedient majority in favour of the constitution. The constitution was voted for on the day of a Serbian national holiday-the Vidov Dan, the 28th June, 1921. It divided the Croat territory into parts and stipulated that no part should contain more than 8oo,ooo people. It wiped out all signs of the Croat State and its national individuality.
The Serb parties were in favour of this constitution, and in order to secure a majority the Prime Minister Pashitch asked the Turks for their support. The Prime Minister called the leader of the former Turkish Party, Ferhad Beg Draga, and two of his colleagues aside, and told them that if they did not vote for this constitution, they would never return home alive ! The Turks not unnaturally decided that they must vote for the constitution, and thus the Serbian constitution was actually made possible by the votes of the Turkish minority !

The Croat people was not represented at this Convention in Belgrade because, first of all, the Convention was not a sovereign body, nor was a qualified majority prescribed for the vote in regard to the constitution, nor was there any defence against the undue influence of majorities. Secondly, their participation could have no practical result, since Serbia had already made arrangements to obtain a majority of I, by assuming that the Croats were present and had voted with the opposition. Thirdly, according to the historic right of the Croat State, and to the right of the Croatian nation to self-determination, no constitution could be considered valid by the Croat people which had not been approved by them. Therefore the Belgrade Convention was no place for the representatives of the Croat people, and they boycotted it. Serbia ignored the Croat boycott of the Convention, and informed the Croats of the entering into force of the constitution by means of artillery salvoes by way of salute. The makers of the constitution praised their own work by saying that it was the most modem and liberal constitution in Europe, and comparable only to that of Belgium.
The Macedonian hell was created under this constitution. A naked man, who had been maltreated, was exposed to Parliament as a guarantee of the " rights of man." The Croat deputies, headed by Stephen Raditch, their leader, were deprived of their liberty although they were guaranteed immunity and the Courts had declared that, according to law, there was no reason why their liberty should be taken away. The Croat Peasant Party, which represented the whole of the Croat people, was on several occasions declared to be illegal under the constitution, and its meetings were prohibited, its publications confiscated and its supporters persecuted.

There is no parallel in Europe to the fact that a whole nation, the Croats, who have had their own national government and their national legislative body in their capital at Zagreb, are kept, against their will, under alien domination. Moreover, they are kept under this domination in spite of the fact that they elected, in the most difficult circumstances and with large majorities, their own representatives in all the subsequent elections, with the desire and aim of ruling and governing themselves. The tragedy and irony of the whole thing lie in the fact that the Croats, after having preserved for centuries their own national and State rights, should have these wrested from them just after the proclamation by the Allies of the principle of self-determination.

Stephen Raditch became the leader of the Croat political organisation, formed with the object of educating the people in the principles of democracy, self-determination and peace. Up to 1925 he and the other leaders worked outside the Belgrade Parliament, to show that the Croats would refuse to accept a constitution, which in their eyes lacked any juridical force. They expected that Serbia and the Great Powers, who had created this community of peoples, would comprehend the necessity for revising the relations between Croatia and Serbia.

When Serbia realised that the constitution was unworkable in practice, she assumed the attitude that she would eventually proceed to make changes, and foreign friends, especially the British, advised Stephen Raditch to join the Belgrade Parliament, where he would receive the support of the Serb opposition and thus achieve success. Raditch said that the point of view of his foreign friends was wrong, that his going to Belgrade would promote the formation of a Serbian bloc, that he and his friends would be assassinated and that a military dictatorship would afterwards be set up. "But we shall go to Belgrade," said Raditch, " to make a last attempt for a direct understanding with Serbia."

And Stephen Raditch, with his deputies from the Croat Peasant Party, which represented roo per cent. of the Croat people, went in 1925 to the Belgrade Parliament. The Croats did not make this beginning of a collaboration dependent upon any conditions of a political character, and in order not to give excuse for any Pan-Serbian counter-action, Raditch sincerely and loyally recognised the Serb dynasty and the constitution of 1921 as existing de facto. His view was that his collaboration with Serbia in regard to Croatia would obviously show what had to be changed in order to create a modus vivendi between the two nations.

The Croat national representatives, headed by Stephen Raditch, immediately on arriving in Belgrade began the struggle for the primary rights of the Croat people, for honesty in State administration and for public control of the exchequer. This struggle lasted for almost three years. But Serbia endeavoured to avail herself of this open-hearted and sincere overture of Raditch to compromise him in the eyes of the Croat people, to break up by intrigues the Croat Peasant Party, and to destroy in this manner the political force of Croatia.

These endeavours met with no success, because the political sense of the Croat peasant people was stronger than was thought, and it continued to give its undivided confidence to Stephen Raditch at the legislative elections. On the initiative of the King of Serbia, the Serbian bloc was formed, which called itself" The Strong Castle." Afterwards, on the 2oth June, 1928, the incredible decision to assassinate Stephen Raditch was arrived at. This decision was carried out, during a public sitting of the Parliament, by a Serbian deputy, a member of the government majority and president of the Serb insurgent association " Peter Mrkonich " (Peter the Dark)-a pseudonym of the late Serbian King Peter, when he was an insurgent against the Obrenovitches on Austrian territory. This deputy was a party to all the political plots that have been concocted in Serbia. Stephen Raditch had been sitting quietly that day in his seat, and had not said a single word during the course of the whole session. Two of his fellowdeputies, Paul Raditch and George Bassaritchek, succumbed to their injuries, and two others, Ivan Pernar and Ivan Grandja, were severely wounded. This terrible crime of the 2oth June,

1928, which stands out in the history of the world, has left a permanent and an ineffaceable memory in the soul and conscience of the Croatian nation. The murderer was hailed by Serb public opinion as a national hero and public ovations were accorded him, and he was not sentenced to death.

The Croat national representatives left Belgrade, and continued their work at Zagreb, and the Serb parties remained in the Belgrade Parliament to continue their legislative work, and in the absence of the Croats, immediately after the funeral of Raditch, they ratified the international treaties of Nettuno which referred to Croatia, despite the fact that Croatia had opposed ratification.

In the autumn of 1928, King Alexander went to Paris to consult the dentists, and on his return he proclaimed the royal dictatorship for which preparation had been made in advance. This dictatorship was the personal act of King Alexander, carried out on his own initiative, and without anyone contrasigning it. He declared that he bore the responsibility for his action, and thus took over the settlement of the Croat question, explaining his step as follows :

" Standing before the alternatives, either to allow the break-up of the State into autonomous units, or to follow the right conception in regard to the interests of the State even if these have to be backed by force, I have chosen to follow this latter way and have abrogated the constitution."

By this statement, the whole Croat people were quite frankly declared to be outlaw. A further authentic statement regarding the reasons which induced him to act in this way was made by the King in his speech from the Throne on the 6th January, 1932, in which he said :

" By means of the constitution of 1921 we strove to carry out our State national task, but it became clearer and clearer that our national idea has not received, in the constitution of the Triune State, its adequate expression, nor the force of an organised national unity. In such a State organisation, our organised political life attempted with difficulty to emerge from the narrow limits of the separate ethnic groups.1 By my decision of the 6th January, 1929, I have broken with this state of affairs. It was my sacred duty to the nation and to history."

The royal dictatorship does not mean any change of aims, but is merely the adoption of other means for the furthering of them. The constitution of 1921, which was quite rightly considered by British experts as "tantamount to Pan-Serbism," presented insufficient means for the creation of a Greater Serbia. It was abrogated for this reason by the King, though he had participated in its making and owed allegiance to it. The dictatorship is therefore in continuity with the policy of Serbia towards Croatia from 1918 onwards. This is one of the main reasons why the leaders of the Serbian parties merely withdrew, and remain in the position of "reserves." This is the reason, too, why so many of the most prominent members of their parties took up leading roles under the dictatorial policy (i.e., in the government and the State political institutions) and why the President of the abrogated Parliament has agreed to be nominated to the post of Secretary of the Legislative Committee which was appointed by the Government to work out the advisory drafts of the laws. They all believed that the King would not have proclaimed his dictatorship if Serbia only had been under his rule. Serbia accepted the dictatorship of her King with the feeling that he would break the resistance of the Croats (and believed that after the murder of Stephen Raditch this was possible). One single slogan took hold of the whole of Serbia : " Now or never ! " These words were displayed as headlines in the Belgrade newspaper Pravda.

The successor to Stephen Raditch, Dr. Vlatko Matchek, was imprisoned as a result of false accusations obtained by the endless torture of witnesses. Matchek was transferred from Zagreb to a prison at Belgrade, and whilst the leader of the Croats was incarcerated there, the official nomination of King Alexander as the successor of Stephen Raditch as the leader of the Croat people took place at the Palace at Belgrade. A deputation of people of no political importance-dissident members of the Raditch party-was sent to Belgrade, and in the presence of the Royal Cabinet, on the 22nd April, I930, read to King Alexander an address in which it was said, amongst other things, that:

"Up to the 6th January, 1929 (the day on which the Dictatorship was proclaimed) we, the Croat Peasants, had only one leader and master, Stephen Raditch.... Majesty, you are now our leader and master."

To which the King replied:
" I am proud that the love of the Croat peasant nation towards me and towards my house is so sincere and so deep.''
Only the fear of the public opinion of the world interfered with the carrying out of the sentence which had been laid down for the real successor to Raditch by an arbitrary court in Belgrade. But the question of getting rid of him was only postponed until a more favourable opportunity occurred. The King stated to the New York Times in April, 1929, that "after the political leaders had been disposed of, a better and stronger Yugoslavia would come into being."

The Croat Peasant Party of Raditch had to be destroyed in order to do away with the political organisation of the Croat people, since this party represented it. And first of all Stephen Raditch had to be forgotten. No commemoration, no requiems, no black flags were to be allowed, and it was to be made difficult to visit his grave and to place flowers there. Photographs of him, books, papers and articles by him, were confiscated, and nothing reminiscent of him was allowed to be retained; streets, squares and promenades bearing the name of Stephen Raditch (e.g. Krizevci, Bjelovar, Dubrovnik) had to be renamed after King Alexander, Peter Zivkovic, etc., although at the same time, do not let us forget that the dictatorship caused to be erected, on the 2nd February, 1930, a tablet commemorating the murder at Sarajevo in 1914. In order to dissolve the Croat Peasant Party, all other parties in the State were prohibited. Guards were placed at the house of Dr. Matchek, and people were not allowed to visit him, whilst deputations were allowed to travel free of charge for the purpose of paying homage to the King, provided that such delegations were composed of persons bearing certificates that they were former members of the Croat Peasant Party.

After the dissolution of all the parties, steps were taken to organise a Royal Party, which was called the Yugoslav Radical Peasant Democrat Party; other parties were allowed to form, provided they had the same programme as the Royal Party, and if they produced signatures from all parts of the country that they had members there, but they would not have the right to bear the name of either Croat, Slovene or Serb. There was no reason to limit the activities of the Serb parties on the ground of their programme or name. In the past the work had extended freely over all the State territory. There were no political reasons why there should not be Slovene political parties, because all of them had actively participated in the Cabinet under the dictatorship, since they felt that in view of their numerical weakness (8 per cent. only of the total population) and lack of traditions they could reckon on the Croats taking part in the political struggle, and thus automatically obtain freedom for themselves as well.

This prohibition was directed solely at the Raditch Croat Peasant Party, in order to compel the Croats to submit to the political leadership of the Serb. Such attempts had already been made without success by all the Serb political parties, as well as by the King. It is not possible to impose upon the Croat people alien political organisations nor to provide them with political leaders from outside Croatia. Croatia is an independent politica organisation. In all further actions also, the Pan-Serbian scheme is quite apparent, despite the attempt to hide it under the transparent veil of the name of Yugoslavia.

The royal dictatorship also prohibits the use of the Croatian national flag. The Croatian flag was flown under the regime of Austria-Hungary, not only in Croatia, but in Budapest itself, where, according to the treaty, it was flown on the Parliament Building as an outward sign that matters of common interest were being discussed there. It must be said here that the Serbian flag is also prohibited, but this is protected by law under the pretext that it is the flag of the Orthodox Serb Church, and consequently it is flown without interference.

During the Eucharistic Congress in Croatian Dalmatia this summer, the Croats carried their flag decorated with holy pictures in church processions, in the manner of church banners, but the gendarmes killed the youthful flag-bearers. In many other places, also, blood has been shed by gendarmes in connection with the flying of the Croat flag, which is everywhere punishable by heavy fines and imprisonment. The gendarmes, further, desecrated Croat tombs by trampling on the grave of Raditch in order to remove the wreaths bearing the Croat colours.

People with children at school view with deep concern the question of education. The Croat language in the school books is corrupted and altered by the use of the Serb dialect and Serb orthography, which is far less developed than the Croat. The object of this is to eliminate the ties which bind the young Croat generation with the centuries-old Croatian literature and with their own native language. Croatian history is now reduced to merely a few pages, and is even falsely represented for propaganda purposes by the Serbs.

The dictatorship is also attempting to weaken the Croat national resistance by a deliberate policy of pauperisation. The great financial institutions which for years have been the custodians of the people's savings and the rational regulators of Croatian economic life are being ruined, in order to transport financial matters from their present normal centre, Zagreb, to Belgrade, that is, outside Croatia. Even the severest economic crisis could be no excuse for allowing more than half of the population to suffer from hunger, particularly in an agricultural State, but this is now the case under the Belgrade dictatorship, even in years of very good harvests.

Croatia is powerless to exercise any influence whatever on foreign politics. Serbia took such matters completely into her own hands, and concludes political alliances and treaties without consulting or even informing Croatia. The Croat political representation usually hears of such matters as a result of indirect activities, or from such information as is vouchsafed by the newspapers. Croatia can be, at any moment, unexpectedly and by no action of her own, implicated in the most fatal international adventures.

The police, who are omnipotent, decide all matters of internal administration, and are led by the military element, which is exclusively Serbian. If its methods of torture, to which prisoners are subjected, were applied to some animal in the streets of London, any casual passer-by would hasten to the aid of the poor wretch. Not only is torture rampant, but prisoners are frequently assassinated for political reasons, and Serbia has introduced into Croatia such criminal methods of rule and such atrocities as were never before experienced in this part of Central Europe.

The police have also assumed the functions of the law courts, which have become merely police institutions, empowered for political reasons to pass sentences ordered by the Government. There is, further, no freedom of press or speech.
As long as Croatia was joined to Austria-Hungary, the Croats had the status of a State, guaranteed by bi-lateral treaties, but Austria-Hungary was doomed to dissolution because she did not permit free development and a position of equality to the various nations which composed the empire. But in Croatia, when it was part of Austria-Hungary, no methods even approaching those mentioned above were ever possible.

In the Kingdom of Croatia, the Ban (Viceroy) was at the head of the Government at Zagreb, and was responsible to the Croat Parliament (Sabor). His position was such that the Croats said: " For Croats the Ban is King." The Croats had sovereign power in administration, jurisdiction, education, and in their own economic life, and in the corresponding legislation. They maintained their own troops, in the united army they had a substantial influence, and they were not without a voice in regard to matters of foreign policy. The laws passed in affairs of common interest at the Joint Parliament at Budapest were only valid in Croatia after they had been promulgated by the Croat Parliament. Executive measures in joint matters which, according to the treaty, were within the competence of the joint ministers in Budapest, could not be imposed on Croatia against the will of the head of the Croat government in Zagreb.

The relations of Croatia with Hungary were regarded by Croatia as resting on the principle, Regnum regno non praescribit leges.

And now Serbia has come to annul the identity of the Croat nation and the Croat State, and to obtain a settlement of the Croat question by the most forcible means, and by rendering the people outlaw, regardless of the positive national rights established by the history and traditions of the Croatian nation. After decreeing that Croatia no longer exists, that the Croatian nation no longer exists, Belgrade asks with surprise, " How can there be a Croatian problem? "

If any State fell so low as to perform its mandatory duties over some wild tribe in Africa, Asia, or on some island in the Pacific, in the manner in which the King of Serbia is exercising his usurped power over Croatia in Central Europe, such a State would immediately lose its right to its mandate and its claims to be a civilised country. It is quite natural that the Croat nation is firmly convinced that a State where all this is possible has no right to further existence. And the Croats are asking the civilised and free peoples to explain on what grounds they are thus doomed to disappear from the Commonwealth of Nations? They do not ask for that which does not belong to them, they do not threaten anybody's liberty, they are a danger to no one, and they only want to preserve their own State, which their ancestors preserved for them for many centuries, defending it for the sake of themselves and for the sake of Europe. They desire to retain those things which are their own, to live by their own work, and to collaborate with all peoples for the progress of Europe and of the whole of the human race.

The Croats demand of the world to state, by virtue of what idea are they to be delivered up to Serbia in order that the sentence of death be passed on them and the Croat nation, when even those who were declared to be guilty of causing the Great War live independent in the Commonwealth of Nations. Austria was to have been punished in 1918, but she remains a sovereign independent State; Hungary is also a sovereign independent State. This is right. But what of Croatia? And who has to give the answer to this question?

An answer to this question cannot be accepted to-day from Serbia alone, because she has, after all, no moral or political qualifications to give it. More especially, Croatia cannot accept an answer from Serbia as long as Serbia holds and occupies Croatian territories at the point of the revolver. Serbia must first recognise the State sovereignty of Croatia which has been taken from her by force and fraud. Such State sovereignty must be expressed by means of the free election of a Croat Parliament. Montenegro must be recognised in the same way. The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be given opportunity to decide by a plebiscite whether they desire to form themselves into autonomous units, or whether they desire to unite with Serbia, Croatia or Montenegro as a whole or in part. When this is attained, the parliaments of Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, etc., would be able to draw up a treaty. It will be simple to get guarantees for the maintenance of the freedom of each negotiating State, as only one condition is essential; that Serbia should renounce her aspirations to hegemony, not only in theory but in practice, by abandoning all the means (Serbian dynasty and Serbian military instruments) which she holds in her hands and which she has been proved, in the past as well as in the present, to be using to maintain her domination.

As a matter of fact, Serbia will be able to see that this is her only possible course, if she is made to grasp the following three facts:


1. That two opposite political principles of nationality cannot exist side by side in Europe-for instance, that it should be possible that one nation, the German, should be split up into two States, Austria and Germany, and that, on the other hand, two nations which have never before been together (one Eastern and one Western, of different mentalities, culture, religion and traditions), Serbia and Croatia, should be made into one State, the one under the domination of the other. Therefore Serbia must understand that it is possible for Croatia to be quite independent and separated from Serbia, as it is her right to be, and as she was during the whole of her history until 1918. The more so, because an anti-militarist and neutral peasant State of Croatia would prevent any continental domination in the Danubian region, and would interfere with any attempt to break through the Balkans from the West, or vice versa.

2. That the Croat Republic can join with the Austrian Republic, as agricultural and industrial countries respectively, for the mutual advancement of their economic welfare.

3. That Croatia can participate as an independent member, with equal rights, in a Danubian Switzerland, and thus render possible an economic and political stabilisation of Central Europe, to which Croatia belongs by virtue of her geographical position, economic character and the cultural level of her population; and that Central Europe cannot be organised or developed without the collaboration of Croatia which connects it with the Adriatic.

When Serbia fully appreciates the foregoing facts, she will have to decide for herself whether she desires to find a modus vivendi with Croatia, or whether she desires to remain alone and promote a closer organisation of the Balkans, of which she is by nature, geographically, culturally and historically, a part.

Serbia seems to have learnt from experience, during the dictatorship of her King, that it is impossible to break the Croat people by force, and that the maintenance of a dictatorship directed against the Croats only leads to the institution of a permanent tyranny in Serbia. And this inevitable consequence of Serbian royal dictatorship will probably enable Serbia to see for herself where her right course lies.

But Europe cannot afford to wait until the actions of Serbia and events in the Balkans have plunged her into another world catastrophe, before she has recovered from the effects of the last one originated in these regions. Therefore, I say in conclusion that the time has come for us to fulfil our duty towards our conscience, towards Europe, and towards the whole of mankind, to appeal to the responsible statesmen of the Great Powers and to the public opinion of the free nations of the West, by reminding them of the following facts :


1. By organising South-East Europe as it is to-day, the Great Powers formally as well as morally undertook that freedom and justice should be guaranteed there. Article II, paragraph 2, of the Treaty of St. Germain says :-
" The Serb-Croat-Slovene State agrees that any Member of the Council of the League of Nations shall have the right to bring to the attention of the Council any infraction, or any danger of infraction, of any of these obligations, 1 and that the Council may thereupon take such action and give such directions as it may deem proper and effective in the circumstances."

2. Serbia has violated these obligations in a way unparalleled in history, in that she has outlawed the Croatian nation, and worked with unlimited force for its destruction.

3· Responsibility for the present state of affairs lies with Serbia, who has held the power in her own hands the whole time, and has used this power in such a way as to threaten international peace.

4· It is urgently necessary that a Member of the Council of the League of Nations should draw the attention of the Council to the dangerous state of affairs, and that the Council should " take such action and give such directions as it may deem proper and effective in the circumstances."

5· Failure to do this brings with it the danger that the untenable situation will lead to events rendering ineffective the above-mentioned just and practical international decisions.

This is the legitimate course for the leaders of the great and free Western nations to pursue, one which they have prescribed for themselves, and by which they will be rendering the greatest possible service to Europe and to civilisation. To the Croatian nation, only that course is open which other nations have had to follow when their liberty has been destroyed and their existence threatened. If they are left by Western Europe to go this way alone, the Croats are prepared to make every sacrifice worthy of their glorious history, of which they are proud, and of their beautiful country, which they love.

I am happy to be the deputy of such a nation, and to have so pleasant an opportunity of bringing you this message from my country, and I thank you.


Summary of Discussion.

MR. HENRY NEVINSON asked if the movement in Zagreb in 1909 to shake off the Hungarian yoke under which Croatia then lay and to unite with Serbia had been supported at all by the Croatian people.

Were the promises of the Prime Minister in Belgrade, Serschkevitch, in regard to a change in the Constitution which would give autonomy to the various provinces and the right of assembly likely to be fulfilled, and would they be sufficient to solve the Croatian question?

Was it possible for the British Foreign Office to take any steps to obtain the release of the distinguished men and women in Zagreb who had been imprisoned for supplying the information asked for by the two members of the Balkan Committee deputed to draw up a report on conditions in Croatia?

MR. BEN RILEY said he was one of the two members of the Balkan Committee just referred to. Would Dr. Kossutitch explain what the terms were which the Croats would regard as a satisfactory basis for an entente with Belgrade? He had gathered from the address that nothing short of the right to take a plebiscite on any change proposed would be considered satisfactory. Apart from separation, which he understood had not been demanded, there was the idea of a wide measure of federal autonomy for Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, possibly also for Macedonia. What was the form of home rule which would be satisfactory to the Croats? He had understood from Dr. Matchek that it would be a form under which Croatia would have absolutely national government, its own parliament, control of the whole of its national finance, and control of some national army. If the conditions announced by the Prime Minister could be embodied in a changed constitution, would they meet the requirements of the Croats, or would a plebiscite still be demanded?

He wished to pay testimony to the extraordinary spirit and fearlessness of the Croatian people. With absolutely no political rights under the law-no right of public meeting, no right to fly the Croatian flag, no press of any kind-and under the shadow of all the military domination of Belgrade, the people had still flocked openly and fearlessly round the members of the Balkan Committee, and had held meetings, flying the Croatian flag, in spite of the presence of gendarmes along the roads. The Croatian problem was as deep as the old problem of Ireland, and the world must recognise that sooner or later the Croats must have freedom and justice.

MR. MELVILLE said that he had visited Yugoslavia frequently as a newspaper correspondent with no particular allegiance to any internal political party. He thought that the inability of Croatian leaders to be consistent in their demands had played into the hands of the more extreme pan-Serbians and had tied the hands of the more moderate Serbians. Dr. Kossutitch had suggested a solution which was very little short of separatism; other Croatian leaders had suggested a milder form of devolution; others again had suggested a greater share in the government at the centre; and those were only three of the many ideas put forward.

There appeared to be a contradiction in Dr. Kossutitch's own statements : he had said that the Peace Settlement was wrong in uniting the Croats and Serbians, and, at the same time, that it was right that Austria and Hungary should retain their national sovereignty, but later he had said that it was wrong for Austria and Germany to be separated.
In regard to the suggestion that Croatia should enter some kind of broad federation on the Danube, one of the weaknesses of most sections of political thought in Yugoslavia, and particularly of the Croats, was that they advocated a grand federation before they had succeeded in achieving federation on the smaller national scale. Another weakness had been the inability of the Croatian leaders to put forward a constructive programme; no positive, constructive idea had been put forward by Dr. Kossutitch in his address, only a vague statement that things should be different. The crux of the problem between Serbia and Croatia was the difficulty of reconciling what he called the Byzantine positivists (the Serbs) and the Occidental idealogues (the Croats). What the Serb wanted might not always be right, but he knew what he wanted, how to get it, and how to keep it. He was an "etatist," and this was his strength in adversity and his weakness in success. The Croat was not an " etatist." The Croats had failed to put up anything equally positive against the very positive Serbian idea, whether it was right or wrong.

Dr. Kossutitch had given the audience four or five vague ideas, but not one of them would lead to a modus vivendi. Between the extreme Croatian idea of the breaking up of the State and the idea of extreme centralisation of the Serbs there was a mean which should be reached, but there seemed to be no advance towards it from either side. He thought Dr. Kossutitch had overlooked the fact that it was in despair of getting any agreement between the different sections that the King had finally imposed his dictatorship. While deprecating as strongly as Dr. Kossutitch the regime of violence and police terrorism, he considered that the aim of the dictatorship had been more to impose Yugoslav unity than to carry out Serbianisation.

He would also like to ask Dr. Kossutitch whether he did not think that probably some of the more extreme Yugoslav political emigres, who ran round to London, Vienna and Rome in their misguided enthusiasm, going even to the extent of associating themselves as the enemies of the Fatherland, had not brought a certain discredit upon the more responsible leaders of the opposition, and were not perhaps doing harm to legitimate aspects of the Croatian case. Did Dr. Kossutitch and did responsible leaders associate themselves with these people?

He was rather pessimistic on the question of British people helping the Croats, there was such a lack of consistency amongst them. The late Croat leader, Stephen Raditch, was helped by a number of British people, including particularly Dr. Seton-Watson. When, later, Raditch came out of prison, and fell upon the neck of the veteran Serbian leader, Pashitch, hailing him as God's Anointed, Dr. Seton-Watson happened to pay another visit to Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav press at the time published a statement by Raditch, who exclaimed," Why should this man (Seton-Watson) meddle in our affairs? he is obviously an agent of the British Foreign Office." He had read this with a deep sense of shock and indignation. It was a good example of Croatian lack both of gratitude and consistency.

He was speaking to Dr. Kossutitch with a frankness which was not unfriendly in the same way that he had before now faced both Croats and pan-Serbians, and he would say to him: Would not the people who run here and there, trying to induce people in Great Britain, Austria, and Italy to help them to carry out a purely destructive policy, do better not to do this kind of thing but rather to fight their fight in the centre? He knew the difficulties, he knew the Serbian, he knew the Croat, he knew them all. He thought these people might be eliciting help in something which he did not think they meant, but which would nevertheless lead to the break-up of the State, which would be extraordinarily dangerous. We had heard about the Balkanising of Europe, but he was afraid they were out for the Balkanising of the Balkans, which was even worse. We had had quite enough of that, we English people. It was very delicate for us to intervene; the question was an internal one. He did not understand the allusion to there being an international question in Yugoslavia. What did Dr. Kossutitch mean by the word "international"? The question was one between Croats, Serbians, Slovenes and Montenegrins. It was surely not an international question. Although they had lived under different cultures they were of the same race; how could it be an international question? If they could get together on the national question and not endanger it by putting it into the international sphere, we might perhaps be better able to help.

MR. RHYS DAVIES said that, if one accepted the last speaker's point of view, one might as well abolish the League of Nations; if consultation was not to be taken with other nationalities, he might as well go back to Wales and try to secure home rule for his own country by raising an army in Wales. He was the other member who had been sent to Yugoslavia by the Balkan Committee, and he would picture the situation as it had presented itself to him. Yugoslavia had a population of fourteen million people, the two strongest nations numerically being the Serbs with five million and the Croats with about three and a half million people. The difficulties arose not only on account of nationalism, but also from the fact that the two nations belonged to different religious orders. The Serbs had secured military and political power over all Yugoslavia, but the Croats, in his view, were far more intelligent and cultured than the Serbs, who were an unreasoning people. He was confident that the situation as it was in Yugoslavia could not possibly continue. The Serbs could not turn the Croats into Serbs, any more than the English could turn Welshmen into Englishmen.

He had felt that the Croats were harbouring all the time the idea of an independent State. The Balkan Committee thought that a trial should be given to a federation of several nationalities within the Yugoslav State. This was the only view which would be acceptable in the House of Commons if the question arose there.

The last speaker had said that the matter did not concern Great Britain, but it did concern her very much. The first shot in the last war had been fired in the Balkans, and probably the first shot in the next European war would be fired there too, and the British would want to know, before the next war took place, why it should take place and why they should send half a million of their young fellows to fight when the problem could be solved as they were now trying to solve it by making those suggestions.

MR. WICKHAM STEED said that his first serious observation of the Croat question was in the summer of 1903, when the Ban of Croatia, Count Khuen-Hedervary, fled from Croatia, which he had ruled with what was then considered a rod of iron, and with a certain admixture of corruption, for twenty years until the Croatian peasantry rose against him and Magyar misrule. The Ban fled to Budapest, where he was promptly appointed Prime Minister. The relations between Budapest and Zagreb were not ideal in those days, and only improved under the late Frano Supilo, who did not come from Croatia proper, but from Dalmatia, and who, sharing with others who lived near the sea something akin to world vision, took a larger view of his country's interests than those who lived inland on the plains of Croatia itself. Under his guidance and with the cooperation of Dr. Trumbitch, now one of the Croatian leaders at Zagreb, a movement arose to bring Serbs and Croats of Austria-Hungary together, and a Croato-Serb alliance was made in 1905, which presently came to an understanding with the Hungarian Coalition at Budapest. So lacking in idealism were the relations between Budapest and Zagreb that, within two years, a regime of severe oppression was again introduced into Croatia from Hungary, preparatory to the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which in itself hastened the crisis that brought on the Great War.

His personal impression of the Croat people was that they could be led, but not driven. In the thousand years of their history they had rarely shown great positive qualities; they had more often resisted domination from outside than given positive leadership to the part of Europe in which they lived. Except for the highlands where the tribesmen held out against the Turks for five hundred years, their country was singularly vulnerable to invasion. They had not within historical memory stood with entire independence on their own feet. They were eminently adapted to form a very valuable element in a Yugoslav Federation, if it could be formed on a stable and just basis. During the Paris Peace Conference, when the Italians were pressing President Wilson to give a decision in their favour on some points in regard to the Adriatic settlement, he (Mr. Wickham Steed) had been asked to find out from Dr. Trumbitch, whom he knew well, what his bedrock terms were for a settlement with Italy. Dr. Trumbitch was with him from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. without daring to give his bedrock terms, and the following morning another eminent Croat had come to him with a map showing eight lines of possible settlement, from the maximum Yugoslav line to the maximum Italian line, with, between the two minimum lines, a strip which it was proposed to leave to the arbitration of President Wilson. Peoples who had suffered from oppression for hundreds of years could not be expected to come forward with their bedrock terms at a moment's notice.

They could at least give Dr. Kossutitch the encouragement of knowing that there was some recognition in Great Britain of the wrongs under which Croatia was suffering, and a strong desire that the iniquitous regime in Belgrade should come to an end, but a still stronger desire that he and his fellow-Yugoslavians should go on thinking in terms of a federal future for their country, and should not cease to try to conceive some form of positive solution. Dr. Kossutitch should not be condemned for having come to London or for going to Rome or Vienna, for if he had attempted to work on the home front in Croatia, as Stephen Raditch had done, he would long ago have been imprisoned and probably tortured to death.

They therefore would not ask him for details, but they did ask for a manifestation of a general desire for a positive solution, helpful not only locally, but also to Europe, and this could not be found in a splitting up of Yugoslavia into her component parts. It might come to that, but such a solution could not be regarded as good in itself. What would be good in itself would be an arrangement, if possible under the present King, to have some definite change in the form of government. The time had come for Dr. Kossutitch and his colleagues to work out in their own minds at least an outline of some such solution, so that if the moment came time would not be lost in hammering it out under circumstances of special urgency.

Miss WANKLYN said that though an over-centralised system had produced political and cultural wrongs, the economic result of separatism would be absolute starvation. If any solution was possible which could bring political and cultural liberty while maintaining economic unity, it would be an advantage not only to Yugoslavia, but also to the whole world. One of the chief causes of the desperate condition of Central Europe was the economic isolation of so many small units, and the splitting up of Yugoslavia into its component parts would enormously increase the trouble.

A MEMBER said he had lived for some time in Bosnia, a sort of noman's-land between the two races, and he had felt their antagonism to the full. He could not quite agree with Dr. Kossutitch's view that the dictatorship had been introduced as a part of a definite scheme of Serbian tyranny. He was convinced from his experience, which had involved intercession in a number of cases on behalf of the Croats at Belgrade, that there had been a definite desire on the part of the King and his advisers to achieve some kind of unity and save the country from the wreckage to which it would have come under the political party system. Admittedly relations between the two nationalities had become embittered, and the ideas governing the dictatorship might not be so clear as they had been to begin with.

He had never found much evidence of a desire for independence or autonomy amongst the other nationalities, Montenegrins, Dalmatians, and Slovenes, so he thought the problem was a specific Croatian problem, and not a general problem of minority nationalities in Yugoslavia.

He wished to say, without taking up a partisan attitude, that whereas the failings of the Serb might be more obvious than his virtues, the virtues of the Croat were perhaps more obvious than his faults. More people after an initial prepossession in favour of the Croats had subsequently changed their opinion than had changed in the other direction.
THE CHAIRMAN, DR. SETON-WATSON, said he thought everyone was agreed that the present regime was bad and a danger to Europe. He would even go so far as to say that if it were upheld much longer the fall of the dynasty was inevitable, and this might have incalculable and very undesirable results, an additional reason for wishing that the quarrel should be settled and that the foundations of the new State, which had been wrongly laid in 1918, should be relaid as rapidly as possible. But while recognising the existence of grave dissatisfaction, it would be a mistake to run to the opposite extreme and think that Yugoslavia was not a natural creation. Yugoslav unity lay in the nature of things, but the fortunes of the State had suffered at the hands of a political clique, some of whom deliberately worked to produce the events which Dr. Kossutitch had described. Without accepting every word that Dr. Kossutitch had said on the historical side, he agreed that the account of the Geneva Settlement of November 1918 and its evasion or repudiation was in essence correct, and proved the contention that the foundations were laid wrong. It was infinitely more difficult now to relay foundations which could have been laid right with comparatively little effort in the first period of enthusiasm.

He accepted unreservedly the view that Croatia politically was in a much worse position than she had been in under Hungary before the War. He also accepted Mr. Riley's tribute to the extraordinary spirit and doggedness of the Croat peasant. And he felt strongly that Croatia could not stand alone, except as a wretched vassal of Italy or Hungary or both. Moreover, if Croatia once stood alone, the problem would be infinitely complicated by the Slovene question, which was a vital factor in the problem as a whole.

He would ask Dr. Kossutitch, when he suggested the solution of a reversion to the status quo before December rst, 1918, and a plebiscite in each of the former political units to determine the direction in which they would go, what would happen in the interval which must inevitably elapse before the decision? Was there not real danger of a vacuum juris such as had been advocated some years before by certain extreme autonomists in Slovakia, who had secretly calculated that the result would be chaos and a return to Hungary? While such a policy would be the reverse of that pursued by Dr. Kossutitch and his friends, he would suggest that a vacuum juris must be guarded against at all costs in the Yugoslav question. The only sound solution was the adoption as rapidly as possible, as Mr. Rhys Davies had said, of a federal system in which there would be at least four States, grouped round the four units of the Slovenes, Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro. Lastly, he ventured to maintain that federation was the only means of solving the Macedonian question, and thereby of soothing Bulgarian feeling and preparing the way for a wider Balkan federation.

The conclusion was that they should all use such influence as they possessed to urge a strong united pressure from the Western Powers, particularly Great Britain and France, with the support of the other friendly States of the Little Entente, in favour of a drastic change of regime and the establishment of Yugoslavia on a federal basis, as the only means of avoiding catastrophic happenings in South-East Europe.

DR. KOSSUTITCH said that in 1909 there had been a programme for a common policy between Serbians and Croats inside Austria* Hungary, to counteract intrigues from Vienna and Budapest, but a joint policy with Serbia had naturally been impossible, and was not discussed.

The programme in the newspapers had no meaning because the fundamental element of autonomy was the will of the people, and the regime in Croatia was based on the domination of Serbia. The secret ballot still remained abolished. Talk of autonomy was merely to throw dust in the eyes of the foreigner.

The Croats wanted full freedom. For the sake of freedom their right to break off from Austria-Hungary had been recognised in 1918. They had been prepared to join with Serbia and Montenegro at that time under certain conditions : that they should not be oppressed, that they should be more independent than in Austria-Hungary, that they should be assured of liberty and not lose everything, as now they had been forced to do. Elemental facts had shown that the only workable policy was equality for each nation, and this the Croatian people would find acceptable. It was wrong to think that "Yugoslavia" was a nation; such a nation did not exist, nor did a Yugoslav language or literature. Anyone who spoke of a "Yugoslav" nation really could not understand the situation in that part of the Continent. There were four nations, Croats, Slovenes, Serbs and Bulgars. The theory that because they were all members of the Slav race they must belong to the same nation was false; there were South Slavs-Yugoslavs; Northern Slavs-Ukrainians, Poles, Russians; and Middle Slavs-Czechs and Slovaks. A " Northsla via " or "Middleslavia" did not exist. The King of Serbia had attempted by violence to make the four nations in what was called Yugoslavia all Serbian, but this created a danger for Europe. If it was impossible to defend King Amanullah in his attempt to drag European civilisation into Asia, how much less was it possible to defend an attempt to destroy European civilisation. The Serbians were for five hundred years under the Turks, while the Croats had preserved their old traditions and their European standards of culture outside the area of Turkish oppression. It should not be possible for the Serbs to break up a nation and destroy what the Croats had preserved.

Each nation of the world, like every man and woman, had the right to independence. Each must recognise this right for others, but some sacrifice of independence was essential for the good of the community of nations; they could combine to build bigger and stronger organisations, if what each nation gave up of its own free will was not lost. Thus we had Europe, the British Commonwealth of Nations, and the League of Nations. Absolute independence did not exist for anybody. Croatia was prepared to deal with any other nation on a basis of equality, and nothing less.

On the question of the vacuum juris, this had been disallowed by the solemn decisions of the Croatian State Sabor of October 29th, 1918, and the decisions had been confirmed later by the manifested will of the people concerned.

The other questions were best answered by giving the resolution of the leaders of the Croat and Serb parties in Croatia organised in coalition and dated November 7th, 1932, in Zagreb :
1. Adhering to the principles of democracy, we consider that the sovereignty of the people is the pivot of all organisation of the State, and that the people itself is the only and exclusive source of all political authority and of all public force.
2. Whereas the peasants, considered as a collective whole, are the creators of our national culture, of our economic life, of our social structure and of our moral values, and moreover represent the overwhelming majority of the nation, the peasants have to construct a basis for the organisation of our life as a whole.

3· We emphasise the fact that the hegemony of Serbia, which has from the beginning been forcibly imposed upon Croatia and upon all our territories on this side of the Drina, Sava and Danube, has had, through its lack of ability, its use of force and non-moral methods and its retention of the whole power of the State, a destructive effect upon our moral values, upon our progressive institutions and achievements, upon the material prosperity of the people and even upon their spiritual peace. This state of affairs reached its culmination under the absolutist regime introduced on the 6th January, 1929, which, in strengthening the hegemony and all its fatal consequences, destroyed all the rights of the citizen and all political freedom.

4· As a result of such wide experience, we have come to the unavoidable conclusion that it is an urgent necessity to conduct, with the status quo of rgr8 as a starting-point, a decisive and better organised struggle against the hegemony, with the object of removing it from all our territories, so that all the power and influence of this hegemony, with all its representatives, shall be withdrawn from these territories.

5. Only on these conditions is it possible to proceed to a new construction of the Commonwealth, which Commonwealth, without here going into the detailed working-out of this project, will have as its main principle the idea that the Commonwealth must be an association of interests based on the free will of the members, excluding the domination of one or more members over the others. Every individual member of the Commonwealth in its own territory, as also the members working together as a whole in matters of common interest to the Commonwealth, which are to be settled by mutual agreement, will ensure the furtherance of individual and common interests, and will guarantee the progress and development of the moral and material life of the Croat, Serb and Slovene nations.
The special interest of national minorities will be fully guaranteed.


Signed: DR. VLADKO MATCHEK, Zagreb.
DR. DUSAN BOSKOVIC, Pantchevo.
DR. MILE BUDAK, Zagreb.
REV. KECMANOVITCH, Banja Luka.
DR. SAVA KOSANOVITCH, Plaski.
DR. HENRIK KRIZMAN, Varazdin.
JOSIP PREDAVEC, Dugo selo.
DR. JURE SUTEJ, Sarajevo.
DR. ANTE TRUMBITCH, Split.
VETCHESLAV VILDER, Zagreb.

Croatia showed in this resolution the political qualities which had distinguished her in the past. It was for Serbia rather than for Croatia to lay down such principles, but she had not done so. She had now an opportunity of declaring her attitude towards them, but she had not as yet made any positive response. The situation was of a nature that led rapidly to explosion.

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