Yugoslavia & Romania Why they voted: the way they did

M.L. Sondhi

The Motherland, December 15, 1971

Why has the Bangladesh problem taken a strange turn in the UN General Assembly? The answer lies in the particular phases of policy – evolution of several small and middle powers which have arisen from their response to the wide range of challenges, external and internal, in which they seek to preserve their strategic interests and maintain their internal stability.

In a general way, the interests of Romania are in common with those states which have been led by their diplomatic calculations to respond in a defiant manner whenever a Super Power wields predominant influence in a particular initiative. Similarly, in a broad sense, Yugoslavia’s interests are in common with those states which measure political reality from the effect of tactical situations on deeply-rooted tendencies in the domestic environment and have to be alert to the sensitivities of their own component units.

Romanian ‘pragmatism’

Since 1963, the Romanian Communists have been openly striving to bolster the prestige of their party and government by adopting a “pragmatist” position in the Sino-Soviet dispute, and have advertised their independence of Soviet directions by their voting behaviour at the United Nations.

For example, in September 1963, on the question of the proposal for a denuclearised zone in the Latin American region, the Romanians voted against the Soviet-bloc countries and lined up with the United States. The Romanians are aware of the irritation their actions cause to the Soviets, but while their policy is not to precipitate a Soviet intervention, they feel the atmosphere is propitious for obtaining leverage through the demonstrative effect of their actions which upset Soviet expectations.

No judgement on India

At the party level, the characteristic style of Romanian action has followed the Romanian-Central Committee’s declaration of April 1964, in which while supporting the Soviets on many points, the Romanians snubbed them for conducting open polemics with the Chinese and explained the rationale of their own policy resistance to all actions which infringe Romanian national sovereignty.

It appears from the available evidence that the Romanians have handled the Bangladesh crisis at the United Nations more in terms of the inter-Soviet bloc dynamics and not to pass judgement on India or Bangladesh.

Romania’s activism and pragmatism in foreign affairs are more than likely to range her on the side of those states which will enter into cooperation with the new Government of Bangladesh once the present conflict is out of the way. It is more than certain that any effort by the Chinese to intimidate the Romanians against pragmatic and mutually profitable relations with Bangladesh will prove abortive.

Yugoslav problems

Despite the fact that the Yugoslav Government is considered as having made the most significant contribution to the development of political relations in the Third World, the Yugoslavs have never deviated from placing the first importance on structure of political action inside their own federal constitution and constantly reassessing their viewpoint in the light of their domestic problems.

As the question “After Tito What?” reverberates in the country, the concern of “national communists” in Yugoslavia is deliberately focussed on the urgent application of methods to avoid internal conflicts of nationalities.

Special context

The problems and dilemmas for Yugoslav decision-makers are multiple, and this increasingly places foreign policy issues in a special context. It is the Yugoslav viewpoint on the Bangladesh question to take into account the domestic troubles of the Yugoslav Federation, and to take particular note of the deteriorating situation in Croatia.

There is no reason to assume that Tito, who has in his pronouncements given logic and coherence for a possible future recognition of Bangladesh, will in future sidestep this important issue of the “Third World”. The Yugoslav vote at the UN General Assembly does not signal an abandonment of the policy of Yugoslav support to Bangladesh.

<< Back