Prof. Dr. habil.

Gert-Rüdiger Wegmarshaus Director of EuroCollege, University of Tartu Extra-Ordinary Professor of Political Science European University Viadrina Frankfurt(Oder)

Review of the Book: CREATION OF THE KINGDOM OF SERBS, CROATS AND SLOVENES, 1914 - 1918 Author: Assoc. Prof. Vladislav B. Sotirovi , Ph.D.

The book “CREATION OF THE KINGDOM OF SERBS, CROATS AND SLOVENES, 1914-1918” written by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovi is a very timely and strongly welcome publication. In the 1990ies Europe had to witness the tragic events around the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the subsequent inter-ethnic wars between Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Kosovo Albanians. These wars have led to policies of ethnic cleansing and to crimes against humanity, which are now being scrutinised before the court in The Hague. The break-up of Yugoslavia has triggered militant, violent confrontation between people, which had been - seemingly peacefully - living together, side-by-side for several generations in one multi-national state. There is a strong need, both for European politics to practically work in the direction of reconciliation between the peoples in the Western Balkans, and for Academic scholarship to arrive at historically well-grounded explanations of the recent Yugoslav tragedy. Reasons for the eventual termination of the existence a state or a political regime are to be found to a considerable degree - although definitely not exhaustingly - in the conditions and circumstances having lead to the creation or the establishment of a particular political

2 entity. In this sense, dealing with the very recent failure of the Yugoslav State in the beginning of the 1990ies it is more than needed to firstly investigate the peculiar historical path leading to the founding of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and to secondly analyse the political forces - both domestic and international - which had been behind the foundation of the Yugoslav state in 1918. The book written by Prof. Sotirovi is accomplishing this task in a brilliant, fully

convincing manner. The reviewed work presents itself as a fine piece of historical inquiry into the causes and the course of the creation of the Yugoslav state at the very end of World War I. The author put the main task of his book to investigate and to explain the political relationship between the major national (Serbian, Croat, and Slovene) players consisting of “a triangle that was composed of the Yugoslav Committee in London, the Royal Serbian Government in exile and the National Council in Zagreb during the last, and crucial, two months of the process of creation of the common Yugoslav state, when the new political factor - the National Council - emerged on the scene of the South Slavic politics.” Prof. Sotirovi addresses crucial questions of historical inquiry: “Firstly, did the National Council in Zagreb replace the political role of the Yugoslav Committee before the Serbian government and the Entente, as the political representative of the South Slavs in the Dual Monarchy? Secondly, did the Yugoslav Committee and the National Council pursue a common policy in their relations with the Serbian government and the Entente? Finally, what was the real political role of each of these three political subjects in regard to the final proclamation of the new state on December 1st, 1918 in Belgrade?” At the same time the authors deals in a convincing way with the international situation pertinent to the Yugoslav question before and during WWI; the author analyses, based on archival studies and relevant historical literature the external players and their respective interests and strategies in the Western Balkans: the “Mittelmächte”, i.e. Germany, the Habsburg Empire, and its ally Bulgaria on one side, the Entente, i.e. Britain, France, Russia with its ally Italy, and, after 1917, the United States at the other side.

3 The book shows clearly the different national interests and the differing political strategies of the Croatian and Slovenian Politicians, representing the Southern Slaves living in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire on one side, and the Serbian government on the other side as to the form of government, the institutional set-up, the name and the composition of the future state for the three tribes of the Southern Slaves. The study furthermore explains the political ambitions, diplomatic moves, and military actions of Italy vis-à-vis Dalmatia, Rijeka, Istria, and Albania, of Hungary vis-à-vis Slavonia and the Vojvodina, of Bulgaria vis-à-vis Macedonia, of the Post-Tsarist, revolutionary Russia with regard to Serbia, and it analyses the repercussion of the international power game in the Balkans on the political behaviour, the negotiations and interconnections of the Serbian government, the Yugoslav Committee and the National Council in 1917-1918. The author clearly, convincingly demonstrates the deep cleavages between Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and the resulting fault lines based on national, ethnically and historically grounded interests already existing prior to the foundation of the Yugoslav State - the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The book consists of an introduction, six chapters (The Idea of the Yugoslav unification, 1794-1914; The first war year and German, Austro-Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Serbian war plans; The Treaty of London, Creation of the Yugoslav Committee and its propaganda work; Disagreements between the Yugoslav Committee and the Royal Serbian Government upon the internal governmental organisation of the new state and Corfu Declaration; Creation of the National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs in Zagreb and a Proclamation of a State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs; The Geneva Conference and a Proclamation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes), a Conclusion, three Appendixes (The Declaration of Corfu, July 20th 1917; The Proclamation of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, October 20th 1918; Geneva Declaration; November 9th 1918) and an extensive bibliography. The Book skilfully draws on relevant scholarly literature and important archival sources in English, French, German, Russian, Serbian and Croatian; it takes into account latest academic publications (monographs and articles) on Yugoslav history. The monograph

4 is well written and presents the author’s argumentation on 100 pages in a clearly structured way and in a reader-friendly style. To sum up: The monograph, written by Prof. Vladislav B. Sotirovi is a highly recommended publication, significantly contributing to a deeper understanding of the political history of the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes thus ultimately enlightening our understanding of deep-seated reasons for the final break-up of Post-WWII Yugoslavia.