Yugoslavia Table of Contents
Yugoslav policy toward the Middle East continued the Tito line through the 1980s, supporting the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and forswearing relations with Israel. This policy continued to be driven by the need to protect sources of oil and other imports from that area. When PLO head Yasir Arafat made an official visit to Belgrade in 1988 to urge that Yugoslavia act as a peacemaker in the Middle East, he was received warmly. In 1989 Israel urged that Yugoslavia accord it diplomatic recognition so that the 1989 Summit of Nonaligned Nations also could be used for advancing peace in the Middle East. Yugoslavia did not do so. At the turn of the decade, Yugoslavia also sought to resume the close relations with Egypt initially established between Tito and Nasser. This was given priority because Egypt had rejoined the Arab League and become a major force in regional peace efforts.
By 1990 Yugoslavia's relations with West European nations were defined by the need to participate more fully in European markets and alleviate a grave balance-of-payments situation. Budimir Loncar, foreign secretary in the Markovic government, was especially active in talks with Italy and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), Yugoslavia's largest West European trade partners in the 1980s, at the turn of the decade (see Foreign Trade , ch. 3). In the case of both countries, past political issues hampered progress: West Germany continued to refuse World War II reparations claims by Yugoslavia, and bad feelings were caused by treatment of the Slovenian minority in Italy. Another problem in the late 1980s was the decline of leftist political parties in West European countries, notably Italy, France, and the Federal Republic of Germany; those parties naturally were more sympathetic to Yugoslav positions than the more conservative groups that dominated by 1990. In its relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Yugoslavia pressed for designation of the Mediterranean Sea as a "zone of peace," to eliminate the danger posed by American missiles in nearby Italy, and to defuse tension in the Middle East.
Yugoslavia made frequent overtures for membership in the EEC, to expand markets for its exports in the 1980s and to compensate for increased protectionism within the community. The EEC made clear the requirement that Yugoslavia establish a national multiparty system before admittance would be considered. This increased the incentive to end domination of the LCY and follow the example of East Bloc liberalization set by 1990. Meanwhile, Yugoslavia built a potential bridge to the EEC by establishing closer ties with members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), a group of neutral European nations given special trade status by the EEC.
Data as of December 1990