Milovanovic, Milovan

MilovanoviĆ, Milovan G. (1863-1912), Serbian statesman and diplomatist, was born at Belgrade on March 2 1863, and was educated there and in Paris, where he was the first Serb to take his degree as Doctor of Law and was awarded a gold medal for his thesis. He had become one of Europe’s leading experts on international law. On returning home he was appointed professor of international law at Belgrade University and soon acquired the position of one of Serbia’s leading jurists. He was mainly responsible for drafting the new Serbian constitution of 1888; and, becoming secretary of the central committee of the Radical party, he entered politics and held successively the portfolios of Justice, Commerce, and Finance during the closing decade of last century.

In 1901, at the request of King Alexander, he went to Rome as minister, and retained his post after the revolution of 1903. In 1907 he represented Serbia at the Second Hague Conference, and, in virtue of the proposals put forward by him, was appointed a member of the international court of arbitration. In July 1908 he was made Foreign Minister in the Vetimirović Cabinet, and thus had to guide Serbian policy through the difficult period of the Bosnian annexation crisis.

The series of visits which he paid to the chief European capitals during the early winter insured due consideration for the Serbian standpoint and at the same time helped to calm down the inflamed sentiments of Belgrade. In Berlin he was not received by the Imperial Chancellor, Prince Bülow; in London he was given friendly but discouraging advice by Sir Edward Grey, and on his return devoted his whole influence to restraining the war fever and sweetening the pill of Serbia’s inevitable surrender to Austria-Hungary and her German ally “in shining armour.” In 1910 he succeeded Pašić as Premier, and, being less of a party man than his old Radical colleagues, was able to bridge many gaps, and to acquire within a short space of time an unique position among the politicians of Serbia. Even in foreign politics he showed signal moderation, and though a confirmed Russophil, initiated negotiations for a commercial treaty with Austria-Hungary and actively favoured good relations with Turkey. Indeed the Balkan League, of which he was one of the chief founders, was originally conceived by him on much wider lines than events forced it to assume: the adhesion of Turkey and Rumania as well as the Slavonic States and Greece was to have given the League as a whole such a standing in Europe as would have rendered it immune from foreign dictation and interference.

The decisive step towards the creation of the League was taken at a meeting between Milovanović and the Bulgarian Premier, Gešov, on Oct. 11 1911. Secret negotiations continued throughout the winter and led to the conclusion of the Serbo-Bulgarian Treaty of March 13 1912 (see Serbia). Discussions were still pending between the various Balkan capitals for a more precise and comprehensive project of alliance when, on July 1 1912, Dr. Milovanović died suddenly of heart failure, in his 50th year. His removal at so critical a juncture was a grave blow to the cause of peace and moderation, and also deprived Serbia of her ablest statesman since the death of Prince Michael. Dr. Milovanović was married to a Rumanian lady, but left no family. He was the author of various books on law and politics and of a diplomatic study on the partitions of Poland.

Selected works

Les Traités de garantie au XIXe siècle, Paris 1888.
Naša ustavna reforma (Our Constitutional Reform), Begrad 1888.
Srbi i Hrvati (Serbs and Croats), Beograd 1895.
Srbi i Bugari (Serbs and Bulgarians), Beograd 1898.
Jedan ili dva doma (One or Two Chambers), Beograd 1901.
Državno pravo (State Law), Filip Višnjić, Beograd 1997, 310 p.

References and further reading

Slobodan Jovanović, “Milovan Milovanović“, Srpski književni glasnik, 2-6, 1937.
Dimitrije Đorđević, Milovan Milovanović, Prosveta, Beograd 1962, 179 pp.
Dušan T. Bataković (dir), Histoire du peuple serbe, Lausanne, L’Age d’Homme 2005.
Dejvid Mekenzi, Milovan Milovanović. Srpski diplomata i državnik, Beograd, Dosije 2007.

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