This project has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme
(Grant Agreement n. 669194)
(Grant Agreement n. 669194)
Yugoslavia’s ruling party was the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (Savez Komunista Jugoslavije, SKJ). Despite the several institutional changes experienced by the Yugoslav federation during the 1970s, the SKJ did not lose its monopoly on defining the ideological stance of the country and its organisation, which was confirmed in the 1974 ‘confederal’ constitution. However, the League’s prominence in determining ideological and political rather than economic and commercial affairs made it substantially detached from daily policymaking vis-à-vis the European Economic Community (EEC). Within the SKJ, debates on the Western European integration question had flourished during the 1960s, and the question of whether or not to recognise the EEC featured prominently in the discussion. These debates should be understood within the broader context of the integration of Yugoslavia’s economy with the international market, which was resolved by the adoption in December 1964 of a set of market-oriented laws by the Central Committee of the SKJ.
The party’s ‘liberal’ turn also comprised relations with the EEC: since 1965 Yugoslavia had developed direct contacts with the Community and in 1968 had become the first socialist country to officially recognise the Community and establish direct relations with it. In 1970, Yugoslavia was also the first socialist country to conclude a trade agreement with the EEC, in line with a ‘liberal’ economic rationale which drew on the party’s reform impetus of the mid-1960s.
The ideological dimension of relations with the Community was therefore resolved and in the following decade relations with the Community were no longer a subject of debate within the party. During the 1970s, the party was only indirectly concerned with the Western European integration question. After the suppression of the ‘Croat Spring’ in December 1971 and the subsequent anti-liberal and anti-bureaucratic campaign promoted by the party leadership (Josip Broz ‘Tito’ and the main ideologue, Edvard Kardelj), Yugoslavia changed its approach to the Community. The liberal discourse was replaced with a new approach based on Yugoslavia’s status as a developing country. Having abandoned the target of modernising the country’s economy and making it competitive in the international market, the party leadership wanted to exploit its ‘developing’ status and membership of the G-77 (the group of developing countries in the UN General Assembly) to extract commercial concessions from the EEC member states. At the same time, the ‘anti-liberal’ turn meant a re-discovery and re-launch of the self-management system. The propaganda office of the SKJ was highly active in spreading the image of Yugoslavia’s self-management as a third way between the socialist and capitalist systems to attract the attention of social-democratic leaders in Western Europe and strengthen political/diplomatic relations with them. The new ‘development’ discourse was, however, ineffective, as Yugoslavia’s Western European partners adopted protectionist measures to cope with the economic crisis after the 1973 oil shock.
The deterioration of commercial relations with the Community did not prompt an in-depth comprehensive party debate on how to re-launch economic relations with the EEC. On the contrary, the provisions on economic and commercial matters in the new Constitution adopted in February 1974 attributed large competences to the individual federal republics and autonomous provinces, which were free to develop their own policies on imports from the EEC, aggravating the country’s balance of trade. Interestingly enough, the tenth Congress of the SKJ in May 1974 did not debate the question of Western European economic integration and neither did preparatory work related to the party’s attitude to the evolution of the international system and Yugoslavia’s place in it address the EEC. This confirmed the distance of the party from actual questions of economic policy, which were instead entrusted to the state apparatus, and primarily the Federal Executive Council. Indeed, during the late 1970s, the members of the Central Committee of the SKJ continued to maintain their ‘dependence’ discourse with the EEC: Yugoslavia needed to be assisted, commercially and financially, by the EEC member states. No actual debate developed within the party’s Central Committee on the Western European integration question during the crucial months of late 1979 and early 1980, when Yugoslavia negotiated the first co-operation agreement with the Community, which was signed in April 1980.
* This text summarises some of the research findings of PanEur1970s team member Benedetto Zaccaria, which are published as a chapter in PanEur1970s’ academic edited book. For a link to the e-book, please see Yugoslavia’s “Overview” webpage of this map.
Report on the mission of Vladimir Bakarić to the Federal Republic of Germany
AJ KPR I-5-b/82-14 | 1406/17 Pov.broj:97/1
This report bear witness to Bakarić stress on Yugoslavia's dependence on the economic and financial assistance of the EEC member states. - Available only in the Archive: http://www.arhivyu.gov.rs/