A Montenegrin Manifesto
Some months ago we drew attention to the intrigues centring round the persons of the exiled King Nicholas of Montenegro and his treacherous son Prince Mirko, now in Vienna (New Europe, Vol. II., No. 19, 22 Feb. 1917). Certain underground overtures to Vienna, conducted through agents in Switzerland, gave rise to rumours of the formation of a Southern Slav vassal state for the benefit of Mirko, as an annexe to the Habsburg dominions. King Nicholas officially denied the existence of all secret negotiations (Feb. 1917), but the denial was not accepted in well-informed quarters. We have now received a copy of the important manifesto on Southern Slav unity issued by the Comité Monténégrin pour I'Union Nationale a few weeks ago in Geneva. It contains the proposals laid before King Nicholas last summer and ultimately rejected by him (see The New Europe as above).
After referring to the important part played by Montenegro in the long struggle of the Serbian race for independence and unity, the manifesto continued as follows:—“To-day, alas!—solely owing to the unpardonable faults of their rulers—Montenegrins are no longer able to express freely their desires and aspirations and to fight as hitherto beside their brothers of Serbia for the liberation of their people. Their grief is still further augmented by the fact that they have been placed in this position contrary to the unanimous wish of the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Montenegro, which only a few days before the catastrophe resolved to persist in the struggle to the end, in accordance with Serbia’s example.” The Committee defines its aims as “the realisation of the common ideal, bequeathed by past history to all Serbs.” On the day of liberation Serbia and Montenegro “must constitute a single state, to which must be united, besides the other Serbian lands, the Croat and Slovene countries, according to their common aspirations and desires. Such a national state will offer the best guarantees of democratic organisation of liberty, and equality . . . Montenegro, which in proportion to its powers has sacrificed most victims on the altar of national unity, and which at first sight would seem to have a certain right to independent existence, cannot allow itself to be deprived of the happiness which a common nationhood holds out to it. Its only raison d'étre, and the great consideration and powerful support which it derived from Russia, came from the fact that it aspired to national unity. To separate the Montenegrins from their blood brothers, to whom they are linked by suffering and common traditions, would be to trample their ideals under foot, to leave unrealised the dreams of vanished generations and to inflict an unheard of punishment upon a martyred country. . . .” The Committee, “conscious that the attitude of Montenegro's official representatives runs counter to the ideals of the country,” appeals to all Montenegrins to rally round it and to prove “that the people is innocent of the crime of its rulers.”
This important declaration is signed by Mr. Andrew Radović, the well-known Liberal leader who resigned the Premiership on the King’s refusal to accept a truly national policy, Mr. Vudeković, former Minister of Public Instruction, and Mr. Janko Spasojević, former Minister of Justice. The character of the Committee, on whose behalf these three Montenegrin patriots sign the Manifesto, is sufficient to establish their appeal as the true voice of the gallant Montenegrin people.