The State of Slavuja
Flag of the State of Slavuja
Currency: Slavujan Krone
Languages: Serbocroatian, Hungarian,
German, Romanian, Rusyn
(Serbocroatian is used by the central government)
President: Yaroslav Konstantinovich
Foreign Minister: Dr. Lazar Sandu
Romanian Council leader: Sorin Mihalcea
From this situation rose the movement to form a Banat Republic based on the Swiss model - local governance for each ethnic group, all to avoid being partitioned between neighboring powers. This attempt was ultimately unsuccessful, with the newly established East Filemeria annexing the majority Romanian lands in the east and the escape of the Banatian government. This nevertheless opened an opportunity for the local Serbs (who form a plurality) to strike a deal with the other groups - the formation of a southern Pannonian state that would be headed by the most influential families, regardless of ethnicity. The success of this state would be determined by its ability to maneuver between others formed in the aftermath of the war and those with expansionist plans...
Fall of 1918:
The Slavujan state was thus created by a local Serb council, headquartered in the town of Pančevo. It would encompass Slavonia, Bačka, Syrmia, and western Banat. The key figure during the negotiations was Yaroslav Konstantinovich, a half-Ruthenian business magnate. His pre-war ventures had earned him fame and respect throughout the region, but he was in a position to lose much of his influence if one of the victors were to annex Slavuja. Much of the agricultural sector and textile industry in the Vojvodina was under the control of his associates. His Slavujan patriotism was also partially a matter of regional pride - he grew up celebrating the diversity of Pannonian culture and looked down somewhat upon the "Turkish" way of doing things common to the southern Balkan states which had been Ottoman possessions for centuries.
The people of Slavuja were somewhat divided in their views on the birth of the nation. Many Croats and Serbs were disappointed that they would not be united in a single south-Slavic state, meanwhile the Swabians and Hungarians rejoiced at the thought of a multi-ethnic society. Konstantinovich aimed to secure trade links that would ensure economic stability, which he bet on as a means to secure approval of Slavujan independence from the population. His government included many respected members of Slavujan society from the various ethnicities also as a way to gather support for his vision of a state for all its people.
Fall of 1918
Dr. Lazar Sandu is the newly appointed Foreign Minister of Slavuja. Originally from the town of Vršac near the East Filemerian border, Sandu studied philology at the Charles University in Prague, graduating with a Doctor's degree around the turn of the century. His work in documenting the regional dialects in the Vojvodina region has been recognized by many scholars and is symbolic of his overall love of Pannonia. It was only natural that he be appointed to the foreign ministry. Dr. Sandu wishes to preserve ties with the states emerging from the ruins of Austria-Hungary and generally views more liberal governments as potential allies.
Fall of 1918
Dr. Lazar Sandu, foreign minister of Slavuja, has sent a letter of greeting to the foreign ministry of Matatic and The Principality of Surkis. In this document he praised the Kingdom and Principality of allowing passage of troops in the war, some of who were Slavujan defectors to the entente. Seeing as the Entente was successful in defeating the Central Powers, Dr. Sandu offered his thanks to Matatic and Surkis for their role in this victory. He explains how one of his sons made the gruelling passage across the mountains on foot in the dead of winter, to later return as a liberator of his homeland. Near the end of the letter he invites a delegation to visit the Slavujan capital Malina to discuss establishing relations.
The train carrying the ambassador from Matatic and Surkis rolled into the station in Novi Sad, Slavuja. Several men in dark suits, among them Dr. Lazar Sandu, welcomed the ambassador and directed him to two shiny black Model T Fords just outside the station. They got in the cars and drove north for about two hours, with Dr. Sandu exchanging pleasantries and then discussing how Slavuja was recovering from the war. Occasionally there would be a burnt-out house or an abandoned piece of military equipment in the countryside as they drove. He explained President Konstantinovich's vision for a Slavujan modernized agricultural state that would hold an important position in central European politics. They were travelling on a dusty country road between vast expanses of fields, the sun beating down on the black tarp roofs of the cars. As they approached Malina, the Slavujan capital seemingly untouched by the war, they made a turn onto a beautiful street lined with cobblestone and elm trees. The chauffeurs cut the engines and the ambassador was taken to a building with the flag of Matatic and Surkis waving above the door. It appeared to be a former Austro-Hungarian government office, now converted into the embassy. As he settled into his new office, Dr. Sandu came in an took a seat on a large leather chair behind the desk. He asked the ambassador what was the end of the war was like in Matatic and Surkis and what their vision for post-war Europe is.
(The guy from Matatic and The Principality of Surkis talked about how communists and republicans are threatening the monarchy there and that his country is not industrialized).
Dr. Sandu nodded and took off his circular glasses to clean them. He was somewhat of a republican at heart, but he did not mention this because he prioritized relations with Matatic and Surkis. In fact, Slavuja was a bit of a hybrid regime. The constitution gave sweeping powers to President Konstantinovich who had the authority to elect the ministers in his government and no parliaments, congresses, or political parties were allowed - opposition to the regime came in the form of public outcry through independent newspapers and the word of mouth. So it was, in a way, an almost-monarchy. The only thing missing was royal blood. Nevertheless, Dr. Sandu was concerned about the Bolsheviks and their tactics against the Imperial states of Europa.
(Imperial states of Europa proposed an alliance of monarchies and generally anti-revolutionary nations)
A telegraph operator entered the ambassador's office with the message above from the Russians. Dr. Sandu thought for a moment before asking the ambassador whether he would expand this alliance to include Slavuja - he emphasized that seasoned monarchies were not the only governments threatened by the rise of revolutionaries. Slavuja had inherited some remnants of the Austro-Hungarian military and had a huge agricultural industry which it could use as leverage, and President Konstantinovich was also intent on developing a manufacturing base to modernize the country (though this was admittedly a long term goal).
Language Debate in Slavuja
So far, the language used by members of the Slavujan government was Serbocroatian. This was implemented due to a compromise with the Serbian council of Pančevo when the nation was founded. Certain minority groups, notably the Romanians and Hungarians in the northeast, are now asking for more language and cultural rights within Slavuja. President Yaroslav Konstantinovich has discussed with his ministers and public figures across Slavuja in an attempt to solve the question of language. He proposed the idea of each municipality having their local governments and schools operate in the local language, be it Serbian, Croatian, Hungarian, German, Romanian, Slovak, or Ruthenian - the diverse languages of the southern Pannonian basin. All groups except the Swabian Germans resent the institutional use of German, so the central government continued operate in Serbian with translators for the other major languages. Yet, another problem soon arose after the President's solution: municipalities with mixed populations tended to be dominated by the more influential group. The Romanians of Vršac, Zrenjanin, Bela Crkva, and Alibunar are calling on -New Romania or East Filemeria to support them, as they have been unable to build schools and cultural institutions. President Konstantinovich has somewhat neglected investing into these border regions, despite promising to increase productivity now that the war is behind us.
Sorin Mihalcea, the head of the Romanian council of Slavuja, has welcomed the New Romanian and East Filemerian offers to help. The Romanian council has organized a visa program with the Slavujan government to allow temporary workers from the two Romanian nations to come build cultural institutions and foster a sense of community in the Slavujan Banat. Mr. Mihalcea also stated that he knows that "funds are low after the war, but any donations will be welcomed with open arms and will serve as an investment in the Romanian people."
Dr. Lazar Sandu, the foreign minister and himself a Romanian, has tried to gather Slavujan government support for the cultural program with little success. Rumours are going around that President Konstantinovich has neglected the Romanian community because most of the Banat was awarded to East Filemeria after the war. The Romanian council's call has served as a wakeup call for the Swabians and Hungarians who's national sentiment has been squashed in the aftermath of the war. The President has been working to include these vital populations due to their high education and technical knowledge, in line with his plan to modernize Slavuja.
(Niater announced that they will be building the first European radio network, including Slavuja).
Following the news of the Niateri plan to introduce radio communications to Slavuja, there was public outcry in parts of the nation. The majority Slavic people of Slavuja, who had been subjugated by the Austrian empire and most recently the German empire during the war, rallied against the proposal making the argument that Niater can not be trusted to build Slavuja's radio network. President Konstantinovich was the target of scrutiny because of his support for the Niateri proposal. The president has been accused of putting modernization before the national interest, something which he categorically denies. He organized a town hall meeting of influential Slavujans to solve the problem. Several Serbian and Ruthenian academics and entrepreneurs made the case for denying the plan by Niater while a group of Swabian businessmen praised the plan as a gateway to the future for Slavuja. The debate went along civilly for hours before they finished for the day - they had all agreed to continue the next day and then come to a conclusion. President Konstantinovich left the auditorium with his driver and got into his Model T Ford. He was very disappointed in the amount of resistance that he encountered at almost every step of the way in his quest to bring new technology to Slavuja. As his driver got in the car, a man came up next to the President and leaned into the cab and told them to wait. Konstantinovich asked him what he wanted to say and the man explained:
"I am Rudolf Ziegler, head of the 'Pannonia Speditionen Company.' I speak for all the businessmen arguing for the radio project when I say that this is an opportunity that we cannot pass on. The petty nationalist debates must be put aside for the sake of this country's existence! We respect you because you deal in pragmatism, not rhetoric. Most do not see it that way. We have to do what we can to keep Niater interested in investing here. Look at the economic crises of some of our neighbors. We were spared much of the fighting, but this land has its scars as well. We have been lucky enough to enjoy some level of stability and I strongly believe that we need to solidify this on the basis of organization. Some of the Serbs at the meeting talked of 'other sources' for our radio infrastructure. Who would want to build in a country that might break up or be annexed? The Niateris see potential here, as we do. I'm not so sure that you'll see the same amount of interest from other nations. Think about it, I'll leave you now and I trust you will keep what I have said to yourself."
Fall, 1918. Unknown Mountain in Matatic and The Principality of Surkis.
Garo Markovic had been living in the woods since the Slavujan defector army had retreated across Matatic and Surkis. The snowstorms had wreaked havoc and death on the thousands of soldiers and civilians carrying whatever they could with them. He was a hunter and volunteered to catch meals for others he knew in the retreating group. One day, a big brown bear snuck up on him and he had to flee for his life. Because of the inclement weather, he had to seek shelter away from the group. He made his way to a cave, a risky choice but a necessary one considering the very real possibility of freezing to death. In the morning he was unable to retrace his tracks... He immediately thought of the penalty for deserting. He was not a deserter, but simply trying to help his people survive the voyage. And so after days of unsuccessfully trying to find his way he made the rash decision to stay in the woods. After all, he was at home here. And so, days, weeks, and months went by. He had been lucky enough not to run into any patrols, or even other human beings. To him the war was something in the back of his mind. Until today.
Garo had built himself a small but comfortable wooden shack in the time he spent in Matatic and Surkis. The cave wasn't going to cut it, especially with the risk of bears. Today, a sunny day in the late fall, would be different for Garo. He had woken up to the sound of voices outside his shack. He had left the fire going - not something he usually did, but necessary because of the frost last night. He suddenly heard a knock on the door and he could see what he thought were some villagers from Matatic and Surkis outside. They yelled something at the shack, but he didn't understand so he said "Dobar dan, Hello, Bonjour!" hoping they might understand him. He cautiously opened the door...