Serbia, Europe, Historical Profile (1922), #027-Murder of the Arehduke
On June 24 King Peter, incapacitated by ill-health, appointed Prince Alexander as regent, and simultaneously dissolved parliament. PaSic having in April pledged himself to the elections for a "Great Skupstina" for constitutional changes. Only four days later the assassination of the Arehduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife at Sarajevo revived the latent Austro-Serbian conflict in an acuter form than ever. The authors of the crime, Princip and Cabrinovic, belonged to a group of Bosnian Serb students, mostly under the age of 20, who gave terrorist expression to the universal discontent aroused by Austro- Hungarian repression throughout her Yugoslav provinces.
The victories of Serbia during the Balkan Wars and the openly hostile policy pursued towards her by Vienna and Budapest had assured to her in the eyes of public opinion the position of a Yugoslav Piedmont. Though the initiative unquestionably rested with the Bosnians themselves, it was proved that the assassins had been in Belgrade and had been secretly smuggled across the Drina into Bosnia, after receiving hand grenades and revolvers from (lie Serbian Komitadjis Major Tankosic and Ciganovic.
On these facts the Ballplatz sought to establish the complicity, or at least the foreknowledge, of the Serbian Government, yet despite the compromising admissions of Ljuba Jovanovic. the theory is improbable. The country itself was exhausted by two wars; the Albanian campaign in the previous autumn had shown the reluctance of the peasant soldiers to return to the colours, and it was now the eve of harvest.
Military stocks were alarmingly low; the young Prince had only just assumed the reins of government: the position of the Cabinet was shaky, and a fierce electoral campaign was opening. Delicate negotiations with Montenegro for a customs and military union, and perhaps even a dynastic arrange-ment. were still pending. Serbia had every conceivable motive for avoiding aggressive action. After the tragedy, it is difficult to see what other course her Government could have pursued; its one grave omission was failure to offer a thorough inquiry, without waiting for any suggestion from Vienna.