President Josip Tito, the man who created an independent voice for Socialist Yugoslavia in Eastern Europe, is spearheading the drive by non-aligned nations to find a role for themselves in a world dominated by super powers.
President Josip Tito, the man who created an independent voice for Socialist Yugoslavia in Eastern Europe, is spearheading the drive by non-aligned nations to find a role for themselves in a world dominated by super powers. In September more than 50 nations will send representatives to a summit meeting in Zambia of non-aligned nations -- a conference encouraged and largely brought about by the diplomacy of President Tito.
Tito's career is itself proof that a nation can with independence against seemingly overwhelming odds. He came to prominence as a partisan leader in the Yugoslav guerrilla war against the occupation forces of Nazi Germany. In 1944, after the liberation of Belgrade, Tito negotiated a temporary agreement with the Royal Yugoslav Government. In the 1945 elections Tito's National Liberation Front won a major victory, the King was deposed and Yugoslavia proclaimed a Socialist state.
As Prime Minister Tito turned to a formidable problem -- resisting pressure from the Soviet block and forging a Yugoslav style of Socialism at home and an independent foreign policy abroad. Despite an ultimatum from Stalin in 1948, Tito insisted on his country's right to political independence. Accused of "Trotskyism" and "nationalism" he stood his ground. Through the bitterest days of the cold war relations with the Soviet Union were strained but with a change of leadership at the Kremlin a process of normalisation began. President Tito visited the Soviet Union in 1956 and was welcomed by Mr. Khrushchev. But a year later Yugoslavia still refused a call to return to the Soviet fold. For this, all Soviet aid to Yugoslavia was temporarily stopped. For a quarter of a century President Tito has resisted all attempts to persuade Yugoslavia to identify with the Soviet line.
During the postwar period, as Tito asserted his leadership of Yugoslavia, independent countries were emerging throughout the world. In Africa and Asia the newly created nations, many of them former colonies, wanted to remain outside the great power blocks. Like President Sukarno of Indonesia and President de Gaulle of France. Tito envisaged an independent role for the non-aligned nations -- as a third force between the feuding super-powers. It is a principle embodied in Yugoslavia's own foreign policy -- a policy described by Tito as "based on principles of co-existence, no co-existence of blocks but of all countries and all nations. "Pursuing this policy, Yugoslavia was host to a conference of non-aligned nations in Belgrade in 1961 -- a meeting that was followed by another summit in Cairo three years later.
As the non-alignment movement gathered strength Yugoslavia was having its own problems. In early August 1968 Tito visited Czechoslovakia to boost morale in Prague as the Czechoslovak Government sought to resist pressure from the Soviet Union to halt its liberalisation programme. Only weeks later Warsaw Pact troops marched into Prague the experiment of Mr. Dubcek's Government was ended. The occupation of Czechoslovakia was denounced by President Tito who warned that if threatened itself Yugoslavia would use force to defend its independence. One result of the Czechoslovak crisis is that Yugoslavia has drawn closer to the other major non-conformist East European country, Rumania.
The tension in Easter Europe has not deterred President Tito from seeking to further the cause of non-aligned states. In July 1968 representatives of 51 nations met in Belgrade and decided to seek a future summit meeting of non-aligned countries. Early this year President Tito set out on a remarkable tour of Middle-East and African countries to discuss the proposal with leaders of the third world. He stopped in Cairo to hold talks on the summit with President Nasser, and met Emperor Haile Selassie in Addis Ababa. Here, both leaders underlined the need for a meeting of states not committed to the great power blocks. In many ways president Tito personifies the policy of non-alignment and he was greeted enthusiastically by African leaders. President Kaunda awarded him with high Zambian honours and the discussions continued. Tito also visited Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, Libya and other countries during his tour.
Less than two months after President Tito's diplomatic initiative, representatives of over fifty nations met in Dar es Salaam to work out details for a summit conference of non-aligned nations. The result of the talks was a firm decision to hold the summit in Lusaka in September.
The summit is hoped to be a further step in the attempt by non-aligned nations to remain outside the great power blocks. For President Tito it comes after a lifetime's struggle to preserve his country's independence, and support government's who seek the same future for their nations.