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Yugoslavia Table of Contents


The Soviet Union

Yugoslav relations with the Soviet Union remained stable in the decade after Tito's death. Through the mid-1980s, Yugoslav policy toward the Soviet Union was partly based on the possibility that one side in an internal Yugoslav ethnic conflict might invite the Soviet Union to intervene, providing a pretext for restoring Yugoslavia to the Warsaw Pact. The 1948 rift with the Soviet Union was repaired by the Belgrade Declaration of 1955, in which the Soviet Union conceded the right of other socialist countries to interpret Marxism in their own way. But in the ensuing three decades, covert Soviet contacts with illegal nationalist and pro-Soviet groups in Yugoslavia kept alive the fear that the Soviets might intervene (see Threat Perception , ch. 5).

As a leader of the nonaligned movement, Tito often criticized Soviet policy. His stand against the Czechoslovak invasion of 1968 caused friction, and relations remained uneven throughout the 1970s. That decade culminated in a strong Yugoslav condemnation of the Afghan invasion in 1979. But in the 1980s, official Yugoslav policy favored political and economic rapprochement, and the Soviet Union remained the country's largest trading partner throughout the period (see Trading Partners , ch. 3). In that decade, the two countries remained ideological rivals in the socialist world, with Afghanistan as the chief subject of Yugoslav polemics against Soviet policy. In 1988 Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov made official visits to reassure the Yugoslavs of continued military and political stability between the two countries. The fall of East European communist governments in 1989 eased the threat that the Soviet Union would invade Yugoslavia under any circumstances and provided an opportunity to shift the emphasis of Yugoslav trade toward the West.

Data as of December 1990