152. Telegram From the Embassy in Yugoslavia to the Department of State0

989. Called this morning on President Tito, made introductory remarks as outlined in Secretary’s 650,1 then had lengthy discussion of problems Yugoslav policy and our relations. This was exceptionally frank talk, and I would very much hope we can avoid leaks.

Tito appeared nervous, uncertain, defensive, and at times almost confused. I had strong impression this condition flowed less from my particular presence than from arguments he had been having with members of his senior entourage over line taken in recent speeches. So [Page 333] much was this so that on several occasions, apparently forgetting nature of my interest, he embarked on extensive defense of positions he had taken on internal matters which I had not even mentioned and which were not our concern but were obviously on his mind. Following are highlights his statements:

While insisting throughout that Yugoslavia had no reason for or intention of abandoning her independence, Tito said term “uncommitted” (Russian term he used means literally “unengaged”) no longer was accurate as description of Yugoslav position; Yugoslavia was “committed” to support peace-loving forces everywhere; it was inaccurate to say she was not committed.
The word “bloc” he thought was also losing its relevance to prevailing conditions and hence inappropriate. (Department will recall Khrushchev’s lengthy argument, in recent Berlin speech, against identification of Warsaw Pact with various free world pacts, by “leaders of certain countries which call themselves unengaged,” and against similar use of word “bloc” with relation to Warsaw grouping.)
Tito spoke disparagingly of the Warsaw Pact as no longer fitted to modern conditions. He expressed hope that it would be soon possible to dispense with it and with military alliances generally.
When I emphasized importance to US of Yugoslavia’s not belonging to Warsaw Pact and preservation of her independence vis-à-vis Moscow, he replied by voicing opinion that satellite countries were themselves rapidly losing quality of dependence on Moscow and were beginning to show real independence of policy in many respects (please note my 743,2 paragraph two). Implication was that issue of independence from Moscow was losing its meaning in case of a socialist country, and would soon no longer be important distinction between Yugoslavia and other East European states.
Tito spoke at length about US aid. He said (as in Skoplje speech last year) that Yugoslavs had felt themselves entitled to material aid on a major scale from other allies as consequence of their great material and human losses in the war; that they had been greatly disappointed in what they got out of Germany by way of reparations; that they had therefore regarded our aid as something they were really entitled to; and that they were weary of constant reproaches of ingratitude on our part. They were anxious to dispense with our aid. He himself had given orders two years ago that they were to free themselves from it as rapidly as possible. He hoped they would not have to ask for any further wheat under PL 480; from now on they expected to buy it in normal fashion. Once they were no longer taking aid from us, there could be no further [Page 334] pretext for the sort of abuse to which they had so often been subjected in certain congressional circles.
He entered into usual “plaidoyer” about Khrushchev’s love of peace and objected violently when I pointed out that Khrushchev was not our friend and wished our people no good. Stressing overriding importance of supporting Khrushchev’s side in intra-Bloc differences, Tito stated outright what we have long suspected was his position, namely: that he did not feel, in view of importance of what was at stake, that they could afford to be unduly influenced by reactions of Western opinion in rendering such support.
He went over usual list of grievances against Western policy: Notably MFN, unprohibited Ustashi activities, coldness of Germans and Common Market to Yugoslav trade requirements (characteristically, he even included our unwillingness to give further aid, although a moment later he was saying they did not want it). He said Yugoslavs were obliged to strengthen economic relations with the East because we were undependable. He never knew at what point they would get hit by some whim of the Congress. In addition to going over usual explanations about MFN, I told him that in other circumstances by Government might have felt itself in a position to make major effort to correct misunderstandings and prejudices about Yugoslavia in American opinion but that in light of uncertainty concerning Yugoslavia’s future relations with Soviet Union it was difficult for us to take such responsibility. Mentioned particularly in this connection Khrushchev’s forthcoming visit. He reacted strongly to this last, denying we had anything to fear; but when I reiterated that we could not afford to encourage our public to believe things which might be changed in near future, he replied, significantly, with suggestion we might limit ourselves to trying to give them a true picture of situation as of today.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.0041/1–3063. Confidential. Also sent to Bucharest and repeated to Moscow, Paris, Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Sofia, Bonn, Sarajevo, and Zagreb.
  2. Document 151.
  3. Document 142.