Updated: Feb 21, 2022
One of the most significant accomplishments made by the Yugoslav government during the middle of the 20th century was their ground-breaking strides in foreign policy. These international overtures reached far and wide into expanses largely ignored in the past by other European nations (unless conquest was involved). As such, Yugoslavia blazed new global trails, particularly through the Non-Aligned Movement. One of the primary conduits for cultivating and securing these connections was through the establishment of embassies and consulates throughout the world. However, investigating Yugoslavia’s embassies as a unified network, looking at their individual stories, architecture and experiences, is an exercise little explored in other writing and research. In this article, we will go on a global journey exploring Yugoslavia’s many embassies and consulates one by one, learning about their dramas, histories and, sometimes, tragedies.
Counting up all of the international embassies, consulates, missions and other diplomatic properties that Yugoslavia had abroad at its height, they numbered nearly 150 individual sites. This is a vast growth in foreign policy and international relations when compared to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which only had 31 similar sites. This comparison illustrates the degree to which the new socialist state of Yugoslavia in the years after WWII (and particularly the years after the Tito-Stalin split in 1948) was intent upon making itself an international player. The move that truly put Yugoslavia on the map as a global player came in 1961 with the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement, which Tito assembled along with India’s Nehru and Egypt’s Nasser. This unique collection of nations brought together leaders that refused to align themselves with either the Eastern Bloc or the Western NATO powers, thus, the name “Non-Aligned”. Before the end of the Yugoslav-era, well over 100 countries were members. Through this vast connection of countries, hundreda of consulates and embassies were exchanged and established. And with the creation of these diplomatic sites, there was great facilitation of trade, commerce, construction, workers, technology and so on.
However, not surprisingly, Yugoslavia’s most notable foreign presence was within Europe itself, having ambassadorial posts in nearly every single country on the continent. Many of these embassies were lavish palaces that the socialist state of Yugoslavia had inherited from its former Kingdom, however, despite such lavish Old World splendor, it was with some of its close European neighbors that Yugoslavia had some of the most contentious international relationships. This was particularly true with nations such as Italy and the USSR, especially during the decade just after the war.
In the post-Yugoslav era, there was a significant issue that arose of how to disperse and partition the hundred-plus embassies, consulates, missions and residences that were scattered around the globe between all of the former republics. Not only was there the issue of how to split up this vast amount of property in a fair way, there was also the issue that many of these embassy sites were now comically oversized for these much smaller nations. As a result, many needed to be simply sold off. But then, when it came to the sale of properties, all former republics had to agree on the negotiated prices the properties were sold for, per the 2001 UN Yugoslav Agreement on Succession Issues [a copy of which can be read HERE]. As you can imagine, this made such property sales extremely difficult. All of these issues are why, nearly three decades late, this process of secession, in regards to global diplomatic sites, slowly continues up to the present day.
With all of these issues in mind, we will now begin to examine embassy and consulate sites one by one. Keep in mind that this is not ALL of the sites, but it is certainly some of the more significant ones. With each entry, we will explore the location of these sites, their history, their architecture, notable events, and, finally, their present day situations. Through this examination, we will gain a greater insight into the international position that Yugoslavia had around the world during its existence, how it engaged with its diaspora abroad, how the nation dealt with global events, and how these world events shaped them and were shaped by them. Being that all land that embassies sit upon is technically land of that nation, these sites all collectively exist as a former part of the now non-existant Yugoslavia that have all been largely unexamined as a cohesive whole… a Global Yugoslavia (or “GloboYugo”). Let us start our journey!
Location: Tirana, Albania
Coordinates: 41°19'52.0"N, 19°48'35.0"E
Just west of the city center of Tirana, Albania along the main boulevard of Rruga e Durrësit is the complex that was originally the Embassy of Yugoslavia. The building was constructed in 1931 and designed in the neo-Venetian style, characterized by its pointed arches and windows, pastel stucco and ornate columns. Sources describe it as one of the finest pre-WWII villas in Tirana. It is historically notable for suffering a bombing attack in 1982, which resulted as a result of a strange series of events involving disgruntled miners and a plot to assasinate Albanian leader Enver Hoxha. After the end of the Yugoslav-era, possession of the villa seems to have been taken over by the Albanian government. The building is currently for sale.
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Coordinates: 34°35'49.9"S 58°23'31.1"W
Situated in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Recoleta along Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear overlooking Plaza Rodríguez Peña is a distinguished residence that, for many decades, operated as the Embassy of Yugoslavia. Unveiled in 1909, it was built by Uruguayan architect and engineer Arturo Prins, along with Vienna-born architect Oskar Ranzenhofer, who were both among the most celebrated and accomplished architect duos of early 20th century Buenos Aires. The residence was constructed in a Baroque-revival style with a slate mansard roof, spired doomers, and a corner tower topped with an onion dome. It was created for Dubrovnik-born businessman Nikola Mihanović, who moved to Buenos Aires in 1868 and became one of the country’s most powerful industrialists. In 1928, Mihanović donated the residence to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia for use as their embassy, which at that time covered a jurisdiction of not only Argentina, but also Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. After WWII, the facility was taken over by the new socialist state of Yugoslavia, then, after the Yugoslav-era, it was taken over by Serbia as their embassy. Sources relate that the condition of the building is sub-optimal and in need of repairs.
Location: Sydney, Australia
Coordinates: 33°53'02.2"S 151°14'22.5"E
In Sydney’s quiet tree-laden neighborhood of Woollahra along Trelawney Street is a quaint villa that spent many years acting as Yugoslavia’s Consulate General for Australia. The building was created in the early 1960s in a design akin to the California Bungalow style (a popular residential construction method in Australia during the early-mid 20th century). While sources were not clear on whether the complex was built by Yugoslavia for their purposes as a Consulate General, it is very possible that it was. This was a substantially larger complex than the official embassy Yugoslavia had in Canberra (at 11 Nuyts Street), which was a result of the city and suburbs of Sydney having a significant Yugoslav diaspora population that the Consulate General wished to serve. This diaspora of people came over during many waves of immigration, such as during the 1850s Gold Rush, post-WWII, and in the 60s & 70s looking for work aboard. However, there was a significant anti-communist faction among this diaspora, which resulted in not only routine protests at the Consulate General here in Sydney, but also numerous bombing attacks as well, particularly during the 60s and 70s. In fact, it is notable to point out that Australia’s Yugoslav diaspora were likely the most fervent anti-communist separatists among any other of Yugoslavia’s diaspora elsewhere in the world. This was exemplified with the “Bugojno Group”, a paramilitary cell made up of Yugoslav-Australians who attempted to overthrow the Yugoslav government during a 1972 rebellion effort they called “Operation Phoenix”. It was ultimately unsuccessful.
The end of the Yugoslav Consulate General in Sydney came in November of 1988 (two days before Day of the Republic in Yugoslavia), when, during a heated protest of 1,500 people, a Yugoslav security guard shot a 16-year-old protestor named Joseph Tokić who had jumped over the consulate fence to steal the Yugoslav flag. As a result of Yugoslavia refusing to extradite the security guard, Zoran Matijaš, for trial in Sydney, the Australian government closed the Consulate General and expelled its diplomats. Subsequently, during the post-Yugoslav era, the building was taken over by Serbia, who uses it today as their Consulate General for Sydney.
Location: Vienna, Austria
Coordinates: 48°11'52.4"N, 16°22'41.5"E
Within a block of grand residences along Rennweg, just north of Vienna’s famous Belvederegarten, is where Yugoslavia established its embassy for the nation of Austria. This ornate complex is historically known as “Palais Hoyos”. It was unveiled in 1909 and was created in the Art Nouveau/Rococo style by architect Otto Wagner, who was one of the most famous architects of Vienna and was one of the leaders of the Vienna Secession style. Originally, this house was used by Wagner as his private residence, but was later acquired by widowed Countess Marie of Hoyos. In 1957, it was sold by the countess to Yugoslavia for use as an embassy. As an interesting coincidence, the late husband of the countess, Alexander Count of Hoyos, a prominent Austro-Hungarian politician during WWI, was notable for being a prominent and influential voice in advocating for war against Serbia following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. In the post-Yugoslav era, the address has been used as the Serbian Embassy, but then subsequently was passed to Croatia for use as their embassy in 2011.
Location: Brasília, Brazil
Coordinates: 15°48'51.3"S, 47°52'47.7"W
Nestled between the Canadian and Uraguay embassies along South Embassy Street in the Brazilian capital of Brasília is the complex that originally operated as the Embassy of Yugoslavia. Unveiled in 1963, the designer of the project was Macedonian architect Slavko Brezoski, who was the creator of some of the most significant buildings in Skopje, such as the Orthodox Cathedral of St. Clement of Ohrid. Constructed as a Le Corbusier-inspired open glass pavilion, the flat-roofed complex has a modernist white facade, with clean horizontal lines and a floating rectangular upper level. Brezoski's embassy project here fits in perfectly with the architecture of the rest of Brasília, created by famous architect Oscar Niemeyer. Today, the complex is operated as the Embassy of Serbia. Recent news reports relate that other former Yugoslav republics continue to assert they have financial stake in this complex as well.
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Coordinates: 45°25'36.9"N, 75°40'35.3"W
Just two blocks west of Strathcona Park in Canada’s capital of Ottawa is an elegant craftsman Tudor-revival style house that originally operated as the Yugoslav Embassy. Nestled in the quiet residential Sandy Hill community, the embassy opened up here in 1956 and originally consisted of two addresses at 17 and 21 Blackburn Ave, both being historic homes built in the 1910s. This embassy, as well as the numerous Yugoslav consulates around Canada, were integral in servicing the Yugoslav diaspora that was present in the country, who all came over several immigration waves from the 1850s to just after WWII. However, as anti-communist sentiments were significant within segments of this diaspora community, the embassy was the site of regular protests. Furthermore, the embassy was also the site of a large-scale coordinated bombing attack in 1964 which occurred concurrently with other bombings at the Yugoslav embassy in Washington DC as well as the consulates in Toronto, San Fransisco and New York City [more info HERE]. In the post-Yugoslav era, the address at 17 Blackburn was granted to Bosnia & Hercegovina for their use as an embassy while 21 Blackburn was utilized by Serbia as their embassy.
Location: Toronto, Canada
Coordinates: 43°41'15.3"N, 79°24'44.5"W [former location]
In addition to the embassy in Ottawa, Yugoslavia also kept a consulate general facility in the major Canadian city of Toronto. Located at 377 Spadina Road in the well-to-do residential neighborhood of South Hill, the consulate general was established in 1953 in a stately English Arts & Crafts style home. Being that Toronto had the largest concentration of people from the Yugoslav diaspora, this was one of the most significant diplomatic posts in Canada for Yugoslavia… and, as a result, this site was also the focus of numerous protests from people within the diaspora community, just as was the case with the Ottawa embassy. As mentioned above, this consulate general was one of the many Yugoslav diplomatic sites targeted across North America during the 1967 coordinated bombing attack. After the Yugoslav-era, the house was used by Serbia as a consulate site, however, the house was sold off to developers in the late 2010s. In 2019 the historic house was demolished to make way for a new apartment complex.
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Coordinates: 50°05'14.7"N 14°24'19.9"E
Less than 100m away from Prague’s famous Charles Bridge on the left bank of the Vltava River, at 277 Mostecká, is the expansive villa which hosted Yugoslavia’s embassy in what was then Czechoslovakia. Named Kaunic Palace, it was originally constructed from two Gothic homes in 1629 for use by Dutch statesman Johann de Witte. However, after it was bought in 1762 by Count Jan Adolf of Kaunic, his son subsequently commissioned it to be remodeled in the late-Baroque/Rococo style by Czech architect Antonín Schmidt in 1775, with exterior decoration by famous Czech artist Ignaz Franz Platzer. In 1931, the palace was acquired by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia for use as its embassy for Czechoslovakia, then, after an interruption during WWII, it resumed as the ambassadorial site for the new socialist state of Yugoslavia, which it continued to do until the end of the Yugoslav-era. Today, the facility operates as the Embassy of Serbia for the Czech Republic.
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Coordinates: 9°01'02.0"N, 38°46'04.1"E
Situated not far from the center of Ethiopia's capital of Addis Ababa is a sizable villa (2,600 sq m) that originally operated as the nation’s Yugoslav Embassy. Sources assert that the complex was gifted to Tito for his use by Emperor Haile Selassie himself, as they were close colleagues working through the Non-Aligned Movement. In fact, the relationship between Tito and Selassie was so close that after the property was established as Yugoslavia’s embassy, the avenue in front of the embassy was renamed as “Tito Street”. After the end of the Yugoslav-era, Serbia began to use the villa as their embassy. However, complications have arisen because the document that affirmed Selassie gifting the villa to Tito has not yet been uncovered, and, as such, the government of Ethiopia is asking for Serbia to give back the villa. Sources estimate the value of the property to be around 3.6 million dollars. As of 2022, the complex still operates as Serbia’s embassy. Recent news reports relate that other former Yugolsav republics continue to assert they have financial stake in this complex as well. As a result, reports indicate that the facility may end up being split between Serbia and one of the other former republics.
Location: Paris, France
Coordinates: 48°51'33.4"N 2°17'16.8"E
At the top of Rue Le Nôtre, just a block up from the Seine River and right at the southeast edge of the famous Trocadéro Gardens of Paris, is a stately building that has acted as the center of Yugoslavia’s ambassadorial operations in France. The complex was constructed between 1912 and 1920 by French aristocrat Prince Louis Charles de La Trémoille to serve as a first-class hotel for the city. The design of the hotel was undertaken by French architect Ernest-Paul Sanson, who was one of the most popular architects among aristocrats during the Belle Epoque of Paris. The hotel, which came to be known as Hôtel de La Trémoille, was crafted as a luxury accommodation in the popular Beaux-Arts style, with additional influence from classical French architecture. As the manor is built on a steep incline above the Seine, its most notable characteristic is a large terrace that offers amazing views across the whole of the city. In 1936, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia purchased the hotel for use as their main embassy in Paris. The size and impressive nature of the building can be explained by the fact that after WWI, France and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia developed a relationship as close allies as a result of the events of that war. After WWII, the new socialist state of Yugoslavia took over the building for use as their embassy. However, this space subsequently evolved into the home for Yugoslavia’s ambassador to France, with it further acting as the central entertainment space for diplomatic meetings and events. A more business-oriented embassy was located at 54 Rue de la Faisanderie. After the Yugoslav-era, the building was transitioned into being the residence for Serbia’s ambassador to France, who continued the tradition of using it to host exclusive diplomatic events and gatherings (as well as some more decadent events, which Serbian media has reported on).