British Views on the Relations Between Yugoslavia and USSR 1945–1947 Cover Image
  • Price 4.00 €

Британски погледи на односе између југославије и СССР-а 1945–1947.
British Views on the Relations Between Yugoslavia and USSR 1945–1947

Author(s): Đoko Tripković
Subject(s): Governance, Diplomatic history, Political history, International relations/trade, WW II and following years (1940 - 1949), History of Communism
Published by: Institut za noviju istoriju Srbije
Keywords: Great Britain; British views; Yugoslavia; USSR; international relations; estimations; influence;
Summary/Abstract: The leading British statesmen, Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden tried in fall 1944 to maintain the policy of compromise toward Yugoslavia they had pursued throughout that year, whose basic idea was the formation of a common government comprizing representatives of the partisan movement headed by J.B. Tito and the Communist Party and the representatives of the Yugoslav government under Ivan Šubašić. They hoped that the realisation of that concept would enable them to keep in check the rising Soviet influence in Yugoslavia, at the time when the miltiary victory of Tito's movement seemed quite certain. In order to achieve the goals of that policy they turned to direct communicating with the Soviet leadership, judging it a more efficient way than negotioating with Tito in whom, after his elopement from Vis to Moscow, they had no trust any more. The results of their endeavours were the following: the agreement about common work in Yugoslavia (50:50) between Churchill and Stalin in Moscow (October 1944), the agreement between Tito and Šubašić about the founding of a unified government (November 1944), resolutions and suggestions of the three allied powers at the Yalta conference (February 1945) concerning Yugoslavia, creation of a temporary government of the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia (March 1945). Although the policy the British were favoring was formally implemented, they were aware that a fundametnal change took place in Yugoslavia, that Tito and the Communists took power and that in the post-war period Yugoslavia would go in a direction that was neither agreeable to their wishes and interests nor in keeping with agreement reached with the Soviet leadership about equilibrium of interests. This was confirmed by reports and estimates of their representatives in Belgrade about the situation in Yugoslavia in the first months after the Communist takeover – first by Fitzroy McLean and then by ambassador Ralf Stivenson. Shortly put, the main conclusion was that everything pointed in the direction that the new authorities were bent on establishing a system based on the Soviet model in domestic affairs, and on following closely policy and views of USSR in foreign affairs. Disapointed and unhappy with such development, Churchill proposed in March 1945 that Britain should gradually withdraw and disengage from Yugoslav affairs and that it should leave Tito „to be cooked in the Balcan stew”. However, Eden didn't think Britain should withdraw and „leave the whole business to Tito and Moscow”. In the period that followed the British policy toward Yugoslavia was a kind of mix of Churchill's and Eden's views and it wasn't substantially changed even after Churchill's fall from power in summer of that year. The important events in 1945 took place in accordance with that policy. Britain took a very sharp stand against Yugoslav territorial demands in Italy, managing to force Tito to withdraw his troops from Trieste, but it wasn't overly engaged in internal Yugoslav development: certain attempts to do something more at the Potsdam conference and during the elections for the Constituent Assembly bore no fruits due to the attitude of Moscow which stood firmly behind the proces of establishment and recognition of the new government in Belgrade. Throughout 1946 the British continued to intensly observe and analyze both the internal development and the Yugoslav-Soviet relations. They didn't look with favor at strong Yugoslav leaning toward USSR and other East European countries and they considered that the Yugoslav leadership was determined on completly relying on Moscow and that it was activly working on political and economic integration of these states under the leadership of USSR. Nevertheless, they didn't give up hope, thinking there was hope Yugoslav policy would change down the road and that things could turn to their favor. Lacking arguments to substantiate these hopes in everyday political practice, they counted on the effect of the geographic factors: „Belgrade is much farther from Moscow than is Warsaw.” From the information and analysis they had gathered, they concluded that Tito's regime and the Communist system in Yugoslavia were the reality one had to put up with, as well as with the fact that Tito's government was strongly tied to Moscow and that under such circumstances one had to be patient and to keep the door to the West opened for Yugoslavia, to develop relations with it in the limits of the possible, primarily economic ones, and to preserve in that way the remaining influence and lay the foundations for its increase in the future. In the British public, as well as among observers and analysts the image of Yugoslavia wasn't changed in 1947. It was still depicted as the closest and the best beloved ally of Moscow, as the main exponent of the Soviet policy in the region of South-Eastern Europe etc. Not even in the Foreign Office did one expect siginficant changes in the relations with Yugoslavia, nor in the relations between Belgrade and Moscow. The refusal of the Yugoslav government to join the Marshal Plan – which was in keeping with attitude of the Soviet leadership – and active participation at the founding of the Cominform later on, were seen as solid proofs that Tito's government firmly stood on the position of a close ally and follower of the policy of USSR. However, there were opinions that not everything was so rosy in the Yugoslav-Soviet relations as it seamed. F. Roberts, minister-advisor in the British Embassy in Moscow (ambassador in Belgrade later on) suggested in early 1947 that there was a colision between the Yugoslav national interests pursued by Tito's government and the principles of proletarian internationalism advocated by the Soviet leadership, which could lead to a conflict between the Yugoslav and the Soviet governments. However, Ch. Pick, the ambassador in Belgrade, and the officials in the Foreign Office didn't countnance his opinion. They thought that, although Roberts' s observations were founded on realistic arguments, „Belgrade would never dare to refuse any demand Moscow would seriously wanted to impose.”

  • Page Range: 456-468
  • Page Count: 13
  • Publication Year: 2010
  • Language: Serbian