197. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization1

261357. Fol sent action SecState Oct 22 from Belgrade.

“Belgrade 4736.3 Exdis. For Under Secretary. Subj: Under Secretary’s talk with Pavicevic.

UnderSec’s hour and half conversation Oct 18 with Pavicevic largely covered subjects on which Embassy has reported previously. This summary report transmits more significant, and in some instances fresh points made by Pavicevic on current situation in Eastern Europe. Of these the most pertinent for US is explicit suggestion (para 1E) that West make very clear to Moscow its interest in preservation of Yugoslavia as an independent and nonaligned country.
Relations with USSR: Last April when Tito visited Moscow4 there were discussions about internal democratic development. Soviets [Page 524] said they saw no reason to change system which had been effective for 50 years. Discussion centered particularly on importance (from Soviet standpoint) of leading role of Party in internal life of country and centralized planning. Yugoslavs viewed Soviet statement on changes contemplated as step backward, especially since spring before there had been serious talk about necessity for reform. In past GOY had developed good relations with USSR confident that USSR was sincere in its professions [garble—friendship for] Yugoslavia and that it was unthinkable that USSR would attack another friendly socialist state. As result of this confidence GOY policy of nonalignment sometimes gave impression of “over-balance”. However GOY was wrong, its confidence misplaced. Even during period of good relations there were signs Soviets sought change in GOY policy of nonalignment and independence. Main issues between Moscow and Belgrade have always been role of party in internal life and economic reform and these have been permanent sources of disagreement. Soviets have always disliked economic reform and role GOY has etched out for itself. Yugoslavia last month let Soviets know that if they had any aggressive intentions towards Yugoslavia they should know that people were prepared to fight them house-to-house if need be.
“Socialist commonwealth“: Doctrine expressed by Gromyko at UNGA5 is most dangerous and clearly in violation of both international law and UN Charter. What, for instance, are geographic limits of “socialist commonwealth”? Yugoslavia believes Gromyko’s unveiling of this doctrine at UNGA gives it an “explicit importance” and that regardless of Soviet intentions now this doctrine can be used in the future as a pretext for intervention anywhere Moscow finds a situation it does not like.
Soviet intentions: As result of developments since WP invasion of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia is in dark re Soviet long-range intentions. They believe Soviets may well have aggressive intentions towards Balkans for both strategic and political reasons. Strategic reasons are same as they were at time of Tsars: Moscow seeks warm-water port and wishes to control land approaches to ME. Yugoslavs believe Soviets are only ones who gained powerwise in Arab-Israeli war of last year. Soviets have told Yugoslavs they in Mediterranean now and there has been no reaction from West. Political reasons stem from Soviet concern over implications of internal political, economic, and social system in Yugoslavia.
Albania: GOY does not exclude possibility Soviets may move against Albania in effort to achieve strategic break-through and to settle old scores. If they should decide to do so Yugoslav sovereignty and independence would be threatened. One leader of WP country asked Yugoslavs [Page 525] what they would do in event Albania attacked Bulgaria. Yugos say they understood this question to mean exactly opposite of what was asked, i.e., what would they do if WP attacked Albania.
Western interests in Balkans: GOY believes that in event of Soviet aggression against Yugoslavia West cannot afford to remain indifferent. GOY does not wish to say that support for Yugoslavia is ‘vital’ for that is a ‘relative’ term; it does believe, however, that it is most important for Western strategic interests. It is important that Moscow knows that West is not indifferent to what happens in Balkans. First deterrent is Moscow’s recognition that Yugoslavs will fight, which poses dilemma.GOY anxious for Moscow to have as many dilemmas to think about as possible. Second deterrent would be evidence of Western interest in preserving GOY’s independence and integrity. Two most important qualities of Yugoslavia’s independence are its nonaligned policy and its internal system of government. Would be helpful if West could make very clear its interest in preservation of Yugoslavia as independent and nonaligned country. Besides public statements there are various ways, various channels that can be used. GOY appreciates friendly statements of high U.S. officials, including President, and friendly U.S. diplomatic gestures and counts on these as not being mere words.
Economic relations with West: Development of good economic relations with West are important because: (1) they are pivotal to success of internal reform; (2) of political implications of success of reform both here and elsewhere; and (3) such relations are necessary for consolidation of Yugoslavia’s international position. Military measures taken have been expensive. Military expenses in past have been expensive and are heavier now; they are going to be even heavier in future.
Full memcon follows by pouch.6 Elbrick.”
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, ORG 1 U. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Wilson and approved by Lisle and in S/S, EUR, and U.
  2. Beginning in 1967, the dates and transmission times of all outgoing Department of State telegrams were in six-figure date-time-groups. The “Z” refers to Greenwich mean time.
  3. A copy of telegram 4736 from Belgrade, October 22, is in Department of State, Central Files, ORG 7 U.
  4. April 28–30.
  5. For text of Gromyko’s October 3 speech, see U.N. doc. A/PV.1679.
  6. Not found.