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United States Department of State / Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, 1919
(1919)

Yugoslavia,   pp. 892-900 PDF (3.1 MB)


Page 895

This will be a distinct democratic gain in the former Austro-
Hungarian provinces where much of the present legislation is aristo-
cratic and even feudal in character. This is especially true in
Croatia and especially as regards the land laws which favor large
estates. Many of these are of vast extent (as those of the Odescalchi
family) and the peasants living in them are little better than serfs.
The recent unrest in Croatia is largely economic in character and
owing to the desire of the peasants to acquire the land which they
till. In Serbia the reverse is the case and in fact the whole country
is one of peasant proprietors.
The proclamation also refers to the duty of the Government to
relieve the present distress, to care for the victims of the war and
to reconstruct the country. It calls upon the people to forget their
differences and to trust and support the Government in order that
the Government may inspire confidence abroad and be able to obtain
its true ethnographic frontiers. In describing the extent of these
frontiers "unquestioned sovereignty " is mentioned " from
one end
to the other of our sea." This phrase may be considered somewhat
unfortunate but from what I have been told by persons in authority,
it should in no way be taken as signifying more than a desire for the
ordinary rights of a nation having a sea-coast.
I have been assured lately by several prominent political men,
including the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Gavrilovitch,
that the Cabinet is strongly opposed to including in the Kingdom
any territories not peopled by Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, especially
owing to the danger which this would cause to the Kingdom. Where
this appears to be a necessity, as in the case of the Italian populations
of Fiume and Zara, the fullest educational and language liberties
would be given.
Certain of the measures mentioned in the Prince Regent's procla-
mation have already been executed. The National Council has al-
ready been chosen and is expected to meet about March 1st. The
Skupschtina which has held a short session, has elected the Serbian
delegates and adjourned, presumably to meet no more. A special
Ministry has been appointed for preparing for the coming Consti-
tutional Convention, as has already been reported, and is stated to be
already engaged in drafting an electoral law for this Convention
and considering plans for a Constitution. A decree has already
been published extending to all the Kingdom the rights and liberties
enjoyed in Serbia. Regarding the relief of the indigent popula-
tion and reconstruction however, little has yet been done. Lack of
funds is partly responsible for this, lack of efficient administrative
personnel and a certain weariness and demoralization after six Years
of exhausting warfare. The Croatians show more ability in such
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