History of the Diplomatic Archive
The diplomatic archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is based on former activities of the diplomatic archive of the Kingdom of Serbia and Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
It was founded soon after the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The date of the establishment of the Diplomatic Archive is considered to be 5 May 1919, the date on which the Decree on the Organization of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Diplomatic Missions and Consulates of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, was adopted. The Central Archive was created under the Decree as one of the organizational units and it consisted of the Documentation and the Library of the Ministry, inherited from the ministries of the Kingdom of Serbia and the Kingdom of Montenegro. It was not until the fall of 1924 that the Central Archive started to operate in a more organized manner, when the Minister of Foreign Affairs formed an expert commission tasked to review the documents collected until then on the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and develop a plan for further work of the Central Archive.
Kneza Miloša Street in 1931 - View at the building where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is located today
The Law on Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Diplomatic and Consular Missions (DCMs) of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia abroad, adopted on 5 April 1930, defined more closely which archival fonds are to be included in the Central Archive. It was specified that these are the archives of the former ministries of foreign affairs of the Kingdom of Serbia and the Kingdom of Montenegro and their missions abroad, as well as those foreign diplomatic and consular archives or transcripts that belonged to our state on the basis of international agreements or were handed over by states for safekeeping. Under the same conditions, the law also protected private archives which, by gift, purchase or in any other way, became part of any of the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Kingdom's missions abroad.
Since then, the following tasks have been performed: reconstruction of destroyed or damaged files, scientific and other research approved to natural persons according to regulations; publishing diplomatic documents of interest for the national history; research in foreign archives, as well as research of foreign documents relating to the national history; arranging and safekeeping items of interest for our diplomatic history; participation in the conclusion and execution of international treaties and conventions relating to archives.
Under the Decree with force of law concerning the organization of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diplomatic Consular Missions of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia abroad, as of 10 August 1939, the Central Archive was reorganized into the History Department. The competencies of the department were as follows:
arranging, technical processing and storing old archival materials of all MFA Departments, as well as materials of the diplomatic and consular missions for which a specific need arose to be transferred to this department, and also taking care of the return of missing or lost documents referred to in the Law on Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diplomatic and Consular Missions of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia Abroad.
An integral part of the History Department was the Library of the Ministry. The war interrupted the work of the History Department over a period of almost four years. At that time, the archives suffered irreparable damage, since the materials were destroyed and transferred to Germany, and later to the USSR.
The History Department restarted its work already in March 1945, within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Democratic Federal Yugoslavia. The needs of the new Ministry rapidly increased, and the History Department was organized into three sections: the Diplomatic Archive, Documentation and the Library. Over time, the Diplomatic Archive has become more and more independent as a separate organizational unit of the Ministry. Between March 1945 and mid-1949, most of the work of the Diplomatic Archive concerned the restitution of archival materials from abroad, taken from our country during the World War II. Due to the foreign threat to which Yugoslavia was exposed, the Diplomatic Archive was closed in 1949, and the archives were transferred inland. It started to operate again in late 1957 in Dubrovnik, in the old building of the St. James Benedictine Abbey. In 1960, it was returned to Belgrade, and since 1961, the Archive has been continuously open for scientific research.
Ever since its inception, the Diplomatic Archive has exercised the classical archival functions, and organized work according to similar principles of the archives of other Foreign Ministries in the world. It belongs to specialized archives that are necessary for normal operation of the Ministry and for other stakeholders in the country's foreign policy activities, as well as for scientific and research work.
The main task of the Diplomatic Archive is the systematic collection, arranging, protection of archival materials pertaining to the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and diplomatic and consular missions (DCMs), as well as its use for the purposes of science, culture and education, information and operational needs.
With the division of competences in 1981, all archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Serbia and from its diplomatic missions and consular posts, covering the period from 1854-1918 were handed over to the Archives of Serbia, a total of 128 fonds. Under Article 46 of the Law on Archival Materials of the Federation ("Official Gazette of the SFRY" No. 11 of 7 March 1986) archival materials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and its DCMs for the period 1918-1945 were handed over to the Archives of Yugoslavia; including other materials not created by the Federal Secretariat for Foreign Affairs.
From the archival fonds belonging to the Kingdom of Serbia, the Kingdom of Montenegro and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs (International Legal Affairs Department), only the Collection of International Treaties has been retained containing, together with the treaties of the Republic of Yugoslavia, 9,840 bilateral and 1,622 multilateral treaty folders (all have been digitally processed).
Today, the Diplomatic Archive consists of 132 archival fonds created through the work of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and DCMs from 1945 to the present day, comprising materials from bilateral and multilateral activities of our country. Information retrieval tools have been provided in the form of lists of fonds and volumes, as well as guidebooks leading through the archival material and depots.
Archival materials held by the Diplomatic Archive are used according to the Rulebook on the Use of Archival Materials ("Official Gazette of the SFRY" No. 49 of 25 July 1987) and are available for use for research and other purposes 30 years after their creation. The archive has a reading room and records of its users.
The Diplomatic Archive has also published collections of public documents on Yugoslavia’s foreign policy in the period of 7 March 1945-1950, the "Blue Edition" in 8 volumes:
Foreign Policy Documents of Yugoslavia 1945, Yugoslav Review, Belgrade, 1984;
Foreign Policy Documents of Yugoslavia 1946, Book I and Book II, Yugoslav Review, Belgrade, 1985;
Foreign Policy Documents of Yugoslavia 1947, Book I, Yugoslav Review, Belgrade 1985; and Foreign Policy Documents of Yugoslavia 1947, Book II, Yugoslav Review, Belgrade 1986;
Foreign Policy Documents of Yugoslavia 1948, Yugoslav Review, Belgrade, 1989;
Foreign Policy Documents of Yugoslavia 1949, Yugoslav Review, Belgrade, 1991;
Foreign Policy Documents of Yugoslavia 1950, Yugoslav Review, Belgrade, 1993.
Collections of documents from the period 1941-1945 were also published: Documents on Foreign Policy of Yugoslavia 1941-1945, Volume I, Yugoslav Review, Belgrade, 1988 and Documents on Foreign Policy of Yugoslavia 1941 -1945, Volume II, Yugoslav Review, Belgrade, 1989.
The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation published a collection of documents titled the Relations between Yugoslavia and Russia (USSR)1941 -1945.
The collection was issued in Belgrade in 1996, in Serbian (published by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Military Historical Institute and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation).
In 2010, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation published in both Serbian and Russian a collection of documents on Yugoslav-Soviet Relations 1945-1956.