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Digital Archive International History Declassified

August 11, 1954

LETTER FROM TITO AND THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE [POLITBURO] OF THE CC LCY TO NIKITA KHRUSHCHEV AND CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    Yugoslav response to Soviet approaches about normalizing relations between the two countries and the two parties. While encouraged by the Soviet gestures, the Yugoslav leadership remains cautious and suggests that the rapprochement take a slow and steady course, taking into account the differences as well as the similarities between the two countries.
    "Letter from Tito and the Executive Committee [Politburo] of the CC LCY to Nikita Khrushchev and Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union," August 11, 1954, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Arhiv Jugoslavije [National Archives of Yugoslavia], Arhiv CK SKJ, 507 / IX, 119/I-50. Obtained and translated for CWIHP by Svetozar Rajak. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/112970
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To the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
To Comrade Khrushchev

A session of the extended Executive Committee of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia has deliberated the letter from the CC CPSU on the need for normalization of relations between our governments. In principle, we agree with most of its contents, in particular with the statement on the damage being done to both countries from the existence of the present abnormal state of relations and continuous tension between us.

We, too, nourish a desire for the necessity for elimination of elements that obstruct normalization between our governments and poison the atmosphere between our peoples, which ultimately contributes to the worsening of already tense situation not only in this part of Europe, but also in the world in general.

The very slow progress of normalization, to date, demonstrates the need for serious efforts in bringing clarity into our relations, and persistence in gradually removing negative elements that have accumulated since 1948, which continue to aggravate our relations thus creating an even bigger rift between our two countries.

We agree with the particular position in your letter, which asserts that improvement and normalization of our relations will benefit not only our countries, but also the consolidation of peace in the world in general. To this we add our belief that improvement of the relations between Yugoslavia and the USSR should also influence improvement of the relations between Yugoslavia and those countries that have also cut off relations with us in 1948, and with which our present relations cannot be called normal, much less friendly.

All this requires ample time and good will because it would be unrealistic to think that a quick and short process is possible for the creation of the necessary trust between our governments and peoples. We wish here to underline that we who are responsible before the people of our country cannot but emphasize that this normalization and improvement of our relations must be of such character and direction as to be in accordance with our policy of international cooperation, and not to jeopardize our country's position in the world or to create new internal strife, whether political or economic.

We have noticed with satisfaction that you write in the letter about respect for the principle of non-interference into affairs of other countries. This will certainly be favorably received by our peoples and thus facilitate the proper development of our relations.

We are resolute in preserving our principles of a socialist country, in our internal development as well as in our foreign policy, in particular with regard to the avoidance of the threat of war and preservation of peace in the world, to the defense of our independence, and to our readiness to cooperate with all countries that respect the principle of equality among states. It is this outlook on international relations that originates our faith not only in the prospect but also in the necessity of cooperation between states with different systems, and in a realistic possibility of coexistence. We do not see another alternative today, if we wish to preserve humanity from the biggest catastrophe in its history.

We should not subordinate normalization and improvement of our relations to an unrealistic expectation of uniformity of views on all international problems and on ways of resolving them. It should equally be unrealistic to allow our domestic issues, their progress and ways in how we solve them, to condition the development of our relations. It would only obstruct our cooperation in areas of mutual interest, such as economic, cultural, and other.

With regard to the position in your letter which examines the question of who is responsible for the break of our relations, we would not wish to discuss this in this letter. It is of no significance to normalization and improvement of relations between our governments if we proceed from the assumption that the present relations bring damage to both countries. But, as far as we are concerned, we need to say openly that an individual, for example Djilas, was not the cause of this conflict, regardless of his lack of balanced approach and his outbursts from one extreme to another. It is precisely because of these traits that he had never played a decisive role in our leadership. We recognize other reasons behind the conflict and break of 1948, and the Fifth [1948] and later the Sixth [1952] Congress of our Party have expressed them. As with regard to the extent of Beria's guilt, you know best his role in the whole affair and we have no reason to repudiate your assertions.

With regard to contacts between the CC of the Communist Party of Soviet Union and the CC of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, in principle we are not against them. The League of Communists of Yugoslavia never rejects cooperation with any organizations and movement that wish to fight for peace in the world and cooperation among nations, in particular not with socialist movements and parties. However, before some progress in normalization of government relations is achieved, the meeting you are suggesting, would not prove efficient in eliminating everything that instigates material and political damage to both countries.

We believe that the above approach to the eradication of elements that contaminate our relations would be most advantageous to both countries.

11 August 1954
Belgrade
Executive Committee,
CC LCY

Tito