What sort of state had the South Slavs proclaimed on 1 December 1918? Even the key players would have found it difficult to answer this question directly. From the outset, the Kingdom which eventually came to be known as Yugoslavia (South Slav) was characterised by imbalance and paradox. The Serbs turned to the state-building process full of hopeful expectation. They had fought gallantly on the winning side during the war, emerging with international respect, and had been granted their now century-old ambition of the unity of at least a proportion of South Slavic peoples within a common frontier. What they could offer to the state-building process was expressed in their existing institutional structures — the monarchy, the army and the bureaucracy — together with a clear conception of political organisation. Their primary demand was that Serbian identity be protected.
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