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Nonalignment and Yugoslav-Soviet Rapprochement

Yugoslav-Soviet relations showed signs of new life soon after Stalin died in March 1953. In an unprecedented gesture, Nikita Khrushchev, first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, visited Tito in Belgrade in 1955. Khrushchev expressed the regrets of the Soviet party for the rift, although he did not blame it on Stalin directly. Tito rejected this explanation, and after formal discussions the Yugoslav and Soviet leaders decided to resume only state relations. In the final communique of the meeting, known as the Belgrade Declaration, the Soviet Union acknowledged the right of individual socialist countries to follow their own path toward socialism.

The Yugoslav and Soviet parties restored relations in 1956, and at the Soviet Communist Party's Twentieth Congress, Khrushchev blasted Stalin for his "shameful role" in the Yugoslav-Soviet estrangement. After a visit to the Soviet Union in June that deepened the rapprochement, Tito entertained hopes that all of Eastern Europe would adopt some version of Yugoslavia's model for socialist development. Movement toward liberalization in the Soviet bloc, however, ground to a halt with the 1956 Hungarian revolution and the Soviet invasion that crushed it. Yugoslav-Hungarian relations cooled after the execution of Imre Nagy, the Hungarian revolutionary leader who had taken asylum in the Yugoslav embassy in Budapest. Yugoslav-Soviet relations were unstable in the years following the Hungarian invasion, but by 1961 they had entered a period of detente.

Nonalignment became the keystone of Yugoslavia's foreign policy in the 1950s. While isolated from the Great Powers, Yugoslavia strove to forge strong ties with Third World countries similarly interested in avoiding an alliance with East or West and the hard choice between communism and capitalism. Tito found common ground with Egypt's president Gamal Abdel Nasser and India's prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and they worked together to organize a movement of Third World nations whose collective statements on international issues would carry greater weight than their individual voices. In 1961 Belgrade hosted the first major conference of the world's nonaligned nations. Tito used the prestige gained from the meeting and from his denunciations of neocolonialism to enhance the leverage gained by positioning Yugoslavia between East and West.

Data as of December 1990