59. Memorandum From the Chairman of the National Security Council Under Secretaries Committee (Rush) to President Nixon, Washington, May 18, 1973.1 2
- US-Yugoslav Relations
THE DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE
NSC UNDER SECRETARIES COMMITTEE
May 18, 1973
MEMORANDUM FOR THE PRESIDENT
In response to your request for a brief report on the current status of our relations with Yugoslavia and US-Yugoslav economic, scientific, military and technical cooperation, including an assessment of attitudes toward the United States displayed by Yugoslavia’s leaders and by the Yugoslav media in recent months, and a review of pending US policy decisions relating to Yugoslavia in the political, economic, scientific, and military fields, including proposed exchanges of high-level visits, the Under Secretaries Committee is submitting this memorandum, which covers a more detailed report.
The Committee believes that the several recent instances of friction in US-Yugoslav bilateral relations that have arisen out of Yugoslavia’s zeal as a non-aligned leader and out of internally-motivated distortions carried by the Yugoslav press are relatively superficial when viewed against the larger background of constructive developments in our relations. These differences should not be allowed to obscure the larger US interest in the continued independence and unity of Yugoslavia, particularly at a time when Yugoslavia undergoes the stresses and strains of strengthening its institutions in preparation for the [Page 2] inevitable departure of President Tito from the scene. Periodic exchanges of high-level visits can help moderate the rhetoric in those matters where our positions are different, and generally enhance bilateral cooperation to our joint advantage.
The Committee does not view the course of Yugoslav foreign policy in recent months as indicating any change in Yugoslavia’s basic policies of resisting Soviet control, seeking improved relations with the US and other Western countries, and maintaining a non-aligned posture. The main emphasis in the internal policies of the Yugoslav leadership of late has been on strengthening the central authority of the governing League of Communists as a check on disruptive manifestations of regional nationalisms stimulated by a decentralization program undertaken several years ago. Tito’s efforts have met with some opposition, but he is convinced they are essential to the stability of the Government, and stability is a result we would welcome.
The Committee views the Yugoslav military as a major cohesive force and one that can be expected to play a major role in maintaining Yugoslav unity with the passing of the Tito era. We also expect that during Tito’s lifetime, this role will continue to be subordinate to the Communist Party (LCY), exerting a stabilizing influence from a distance and in low profile. After Tito, the role of the military in defending national unity may well become more pronounced.
The gradual improvement in exchanges between the US and Yugoslav military establishments achieved in recent years could be further enhanced by a visit to Yugoslavia of our new Secretary of Defense, as soon as this is feasible. The Departments of State and Defense are actively considering methods by which exceptions to the National Disclosure Policy could be obtained, to facilitate the sale to the Yugoslavs of certain carefully-selected military items thus far denied to them on security considerations.
The Yugoslavs have also invited the Secretaries of the Treasury, Commerce, Agriculture, the USIA Director, and our Special Trade Representative to visit Yugoslavia whenever convenient. Such visits [Page 3] properly spaced during the next eighteen months would be helpful to the advancement of US interests. These include specifically the growth of trade and economic cooperation and the continuation of our active information and cultural programs in Yugoslavia, neither of which have been negatively affected by recent frictions.
With regard to future high-level Yugoslav visits to Washington, in July 1972 Yugoslav Premier Bijedic expressed the hope to Secretary Rogers that he might be able to visit the US sometime in 1973. You decided earlier this year that your schedule for 1973 would not permit receiving the Yugoslav Premier this year, but we have held off notifying him pending decision about prospects for 1974.
The Under Secretaries unanimously recommend:
that you authorize our Ambassador to express your regret to the Yugoslav head of government, Premier Bijedic, that it was not possible to schedule a visit with him in Washington for 1973, to carry forward the useful exchanges of high-level visits that have contributed effectively to the development of friendly relations in recent years, but that (A) you hope to be able to propose a date later this year for a visit in early 1974 or that (B) you can at this point propose a visit for a given period in early 1974.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 734, Country Files—Europe—Yugoslavia. Secret. The full report is attached but not published.↩
- The NSC Under Secretaries submitted a report to the President on the current status of U.S.-Yugoslav relations and consultations, and exchanges and cooperation in economic, scientific, technical and military fields.↩