Speech in the Indian Parliament

1954-12-27 - Josip Broz Tito

I take this opportunity, before this distinguished House, of greeting the representatives of the Indian people, and through you the whole people, and to express the goodwill which the people of my country harbour for the people of India. This goodwill has existed for a long time, but it reached its climax in more recent times, when the aspirations of the Indian people became better known, their desire not only to safeguard their hard won independence but also to work tirelessly for the preservation of peace and for peaceful co-operation with other countries and nations. I believe that it is known to you that the aspirations of the Yugoslav peoples are identical, and that it is that which binds and brings our two countries closer together, to an ever increasing extent, although geographically they are so far apart.

We have come to India at the invitation of your Government, and we are very happy that we shall be able on this occasion to exchange views with your responsible statesmen on various problems of interest to both countries. I should like to deal briefly, before this distinguished House, with certain questions to which I imagine you would like to have an answer. First, what are the factors that condition the present foreign policy of Yugoslavia? Secondly, why does Yugoslavia refuse so stubbornly to join any block and why does she strive so tirelessly to preserve her independence? Thirdly, why are we such implacable adversaries of the division of the world into blocs and spheres of interest? Fourthly, why are we in favour of active co-existence between States and nations with different social systems? Fifthly, why are we in favour of integration, not only on a local scale but also on a world scale? Sixthly, why are we in favour of comprehensive assistance being afforded to underdeveloped countries for their development?

Most important of all is that the foreign policy of Yugoslavia is a reflection of her internal development and her character. One of the principal roles in this is played by the fact that Yugoslavia has passed through a very grave period. I do not wish to speak of her development up to World War II, the less so since the old Yugoslavia up to that time did not play an independent role in international affairs but was more of a hanger-on of various European countries; at the beginning it was those Western countries on whose side she had been in World War I, but finally, on the eve of World War II, the then Government tried to join the bloc of Axis powers, which, naturally, the people were most bitterly opposed to. From that moment the Yugoslav people's place was assured in alliance with the world powers fighting against fascist darkness.

The Liberation War was a grievous epic struggle for our country, but the Yugoslav people precisely in that most grievous hour found themselves; — and the unity of the people, which for twenty odd years the regimes of the old Yugoslavia had tried to impose by force, was created on a completely voluntary basis in the common struggle of all nationalities against the occupier. Right at the beginning of the struggle the contours of the future development of Yugoslavia could be discerned, in that the people adopted the slogans that were given, as for example, in the first place, the slogan referring to the settlement of the nationalities problem: that every nationality in Yugoslavia has the right to self-determination. During the war itself the proper settlement of the social question was stressed as a slogan, and the features of the future Yugoslav State were also marked out. Thus, the unity of the people and the features of the future State were forged in the process of the Liberation Struggle; and after the war this had a tremendous significance in the definitive formation of the Yugoslav State as a country with a new social system. And it was just because a new way of internal development was decided upon, and the nationalities question settled properly, that not a single nationality in Yugoslavia wished to avail itself of the right to secede from the existing community that had been forged during the war. All these things enabled us to triumph over the appalling difficulties after the end of the war, which had been caused first and foremost by the devastation of the occupier in our country. If we just take the proportionate figures of those killed and compare them with other countries, apart from the USSR and Poland, it can be seen that Yugoslavia with one million seven hundred thousand dead and four hundred thousand disabled is at the top of the list.

The question arises in what way did we succeed in overcoming the consequences of the war, in the course of which our industry, which was in any case too small, was almost completely destroyed and our agriculture retarded. When account is also taken of the fact that we did not possess any reserve material resources, money, or anything else which might have made the work of reconstructing the country, industrialisation and the rest. I only want to give a few how we produced our results can be found in the fact that this time, also, the unity and zeal created during the war came to the fore and was now expressed in the readiness with which every one devoted all his efforts to the reconstruction of the country through voluntary work, in mass undertakings and so on. Many people from your country and from other countries, who have been in Yugoslavia, have seen this zeal, which has been particularly marked among our young people. I do not intend here to go into the process of construction in our country, industrialisation and the rest. I only want to give a few examples to explain the manner in which such self-confidence among the people in their own powers came about, something which has given even greater strength to the independent spirit which has always existed in the people of Yugoslavia, and finally to explain why our people are striving so tirelessly for peace and international co-operation.

Although founded on a federal basis, Yugoslavia between the end of the war and 1950 had a centralised system of management in the economy and to a large extent also in the administration. Why was this so? The first reason was that the country was exceedingly backward, and furthermore it was completely devastated; for that reason it was necessary, for the sake of rational utilisation of basic resources and an even distribution of those resources and the means of production which were in any case slender, that economic matters should be directed from one centre. Here it is particularly important to stress the fact that the State at the very outset took the line that the developed republics should help the backward ones.

This direction from one centre was just as necessary in the state administration, for the State was still in process of being set up; it was necessary to pass a whole host of laws, on the basis of the Constitution, to enable the federal units to work. But as soon as the material conditions had been created, as soon as the industry of our country, in the first place heavy industry, had reached a level at which centralised management of the economy and the administration was becoming a brake on further development, we went ahead with the decentralisation and democratisation of management both in the economy and in the administration. The first significant act of decentralisation was the transfer of all economic ministries to the jurisdiction of the republics; and in April 1950 one of the most significant laws was passed, by which all means of production were handed over to management by workers collectives, which has to date produced outstanding results. But we did not stop at the transfer of these powers to the republics, but decentralisation was developed by transferring the powers further to the administrative districts, so that they became comprehensive economic units. Naturally this stage is not yet complete, because the day to day details of economic development require further modifications, like the local communities and so on.

In this connection I should like now to deal with a number of strictures that have reached us from outside, like, for example, the criticism that we have a one-party system, that there is no democracy in the Western sense, and so on. If anyone cares to examine our social development as a whole and tries to understand it, he will realise that the elements of that development, which I have just been speaking about, constitute the material basis for a democracy of a new kind, differing from the formal, so-called West-European democracy. Our democracy rests on material foundations, it is developing inseparably linked to economic development, and it inevitably reaches the level of that development at any given moment. It is understandable that the development of such democracy was not possible while a state capitalist system existed in our country, i.e. until the handing over of economic entreprises to the management of working collectives. Because, although this state capitalist system was essential in that particular period, in the second stage it became a hindrance to the further correct development of our social life on democratic socialist principles.

You are very well aware that throughout this period we had various objective difficulties, that we had to overcome extraordinarily difficult obstacles which were imposed on us from outside through the blockade and other means, and undoubtedly prevented our development from proceeding as quickly and smoothly as it would have done if we had only had to contend with internal material difficulties.

In her foreign policy Yugoslavia has been guided, and will continue to be guided, by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations because she considers that in the tense post-war atmosphere — it is only through this Organisation that tension and danger of conflicts in the world can to some extent be reduced and the number of various international disputes be reduced and settled. In these endeavours the United Nations have already produced marked results. It goes without saying that there would be far greater results if the United Nations had the necessary universality, that is, if all the countries in the world were represented in the Organisation, for only in such a case could it play the role which mankind expects of it.

Up to now the United Nations has failed to settle many questions of international significance mainly because of organisational faults, such as the right of veto in the Security Council, and so on, and then again because a tendency to divide into blocs has been apparent in the Organisation from the very beginning, and this has hampered the proper functioning of this international institution.

In the immediate post-war years, disappointed at the not at all friendly attitude of the Western powers, particularly over the conclusion of the peace treaties, in regard of which no account was taken of the contribution and sacrifices of our country during the war, Yugoslavia chiefly relied for support on the Soviet Union, whose foreign policy at that time was also one that took little account of the interests of the new Yugoslavia. All these elements had a strong influence in strengthening the conviction with us that first and foremost we had to rely on ourselves alone, that we should not permit ourselves to become a hanger-on of anyone else's foreign policy, and that at the same time we should not allow anyone to interfere in our internal affairs if we wished to preserve our independence and our own way of building up our country and our new social system as a whole.

These, then, are the basic motives which in 1948 led, under Stalin's orders, first the Soviet Union, then the other Eastern countries, to break all agreements and associations with our country and to launch a fierce campaign against us, which lasted for more than five years. After the break, the policy of building socialism in our country underwent only slight modifications in that we are now turning more boldly to our own methods of development, which are in keeping with the specific conditions obtaining in our country. But in our foreign policy there have not been any major changes, except that because of the economic blockade from the East we have had to make a switch towards the West in our economic policy, and in so doing it must be admitted that for one reason or another we have met with understanding and support, and at the same time we have not jeopardised for a single moment the principles of our independence either in our foreign policy or in our internal development; for up to now no such conditions have been seriously put forward, nor would we accept them, even if we should be involved in fresh and even greater difficulties graver than those with which we were faced in 1948. Such a consistent stand on these questions is not merely a matter for us who are the leaders; but it is the whole nation that is behind this stand, a nation which is always ready for the greatest sacrifices if it is a question of its independence and freedom to decide its own fate.

Why are we in favour of the principle of equality in relations between States and nations, and against interference from whatever side in the internal affairs of other nations? First, because such interference means an infringement of, and a threat to the independence of the countries in whose internal affairs others are interfering. Secondly, because it is the most marked reflection of the division of the world into spheres of interest, a situation fraught with dangers of armed conflicts. Thirdly, because it means the prevention of the integration of nations, since such a thing is impossible between subject nations and ruling nations. This is the attitude that has given rise to our consistent and basic stand against colonialism, which contains all the negative elements which I have mentioned. Consequently, I think that today there are four basic negative elements which are the cause of all the evils which bring fear and anxiety to mankind today, which are considered by all progressive people today as not only unnecessary but absurd. They are, first: inequality between States and nations; secondly: interference in the internal life of others, and here, those who do the interfering are most often or nearly always great powers or the most developed States; thirdly: the division of the world into spheres of interest and blocs; and fourthly: colonialism. Until these four elements are eliminated from the practical politics of international affairs, mankind will not be free from fear of the future.

We consider that the setting up of blocs with military and ideological features is very dangerous for peace in the world, since what is involved here is the achieving of superiority in military strength and potential, in order to settle unresolved international problem by force, not by diplomatic means or — which would be the most logical way — through the United Nations, which is the purpose for which this international Organisation was set up.

As against blocs and ideological division in the world, and if mankind is to be saved from the greatest catastrophe in history, we can see real possibilities in co-existence between nations and States with different systems. I am not thinking here of some sort of passive co-existence, but of an active co-operation and a peaceful understanding to settle various problems and eliminate all elements which might hamper comprehensive co-operation between small and large countries. Further, such co-existence is not merely a real possibility, it is absolutely essential if we are to avoid a new world war with all the appalling consequences of the latest methods of destruction, such as atomic and hydrogen bombs, etc.

As opposed to the present practice of exploiting the distress and poverty of underdeveloped States as an excuse for interfering in their internal affairs, — and this is done not only by highly developed States but also by large countries which are not at such a high level of development, — as opposed to this, our attitude has been (and it still is) that underdeveloped countries should be afforded material and technical help, for this in the last resort is valuable not only for the countries receiving the assistance but also for those affording it, for though their productive capacities have today reached the highest possible level, they might stagnate or even go into decline if they are deprived of the opportunity of having their products absorbed.

You are aware that Yugoslavia, at the price of heavy material sacrifices, has created a military force which is powerful by European standards. This was necessary because our country was in danger of losing its independence. This military force has today, and will have in the future, as its sole task, the defence of the peaceful development and independence of the Yugoslav people. In other words, it will never be used for aggressive aims of any kind; but on the contrary, as the Army of a peaceable socialist country, its existence conduces to the strengthening of peace in that part of Europe.

In connection with all sorts of rumours which are spread in the world, either through ignorance or from ill will, I should like to say a few words to this distinguished House about the normalisation of our relations with the Soviet Union and the other Eastern countries. The initiative for normalisation came from the Soviet 'Union, along with a subsequent declaration by the present Soviet leaders that Yugoslavia had been wrongly treated and condemned in 1948. Such declarations, and others which will one day be made known to the world, have conduced to our acceptance of normalisation, the more so since it is in line with our desire to co-operate with all countries which so desire and which respect the principle of equality. Normalisation has been made much easier by the Soviet leaders' declaration that they respect the principle of relations on an equal footing and non-interference in the internal affairs of our country, and further by the fact that they have accepted our attitude that normalisation should not be allowed to damage our relations with Western countries. In the same way relations are being normalised and improved with other Eastern countries, with Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Albania. Consequently, the tension, which sometimes used to assume a threatening character on our borders with these countries, is today relaxed and the position has become normal, which is a great relief both to us and to the neighbouring countries and is yet another contribution, for the benefit of the whole world, towards strengthening peace.

I consider that by normalising and improving relations with these countries, in spite of the tremendous material damage which has been inflicted on our country since 1948, Yugoslavia has given practical proof that she is prepared for great sacrifices in the interests of peace and international co-operation. On the other hand, I am convinced that this change on the part of the Soviet Union towards Yugoslavia is not only the result of the established facts that until the death of Stalin there were in the USSR people who consciously made false accusations against Yugoslavia, but also, if not more so, the result of changes in the internal and foreign policy which the present leaders of the Soviet Union are carrying out, although they themselves, suprisingly, do not wish to admit it, although, in my view, they would get a lot of credit out of doing so.

Finally, I should like to stress how erroneous are the speculations of those people in the world who see in Yugoslavia's getting together with India and Burma and in our visit here an attempt to establish a third bloc. These people are not capable of seeing the world in any other way than divided into blocs and spheres of influence. Is it not absurd to imagine that we, who have so vigorously opposed the division of the world into blocs, should now wish to create some sort of third bloc? Yes, we wish to increase the number of States and nations for whom peace is above all else, and who are fighting for equality of relations, for peaceful co-operation among the nations and active co-existence between States with different social systems, not by creating some sort of third bloc but by active co-operation against all the negative phenomena in the world hanging like the sword of Damocles over the head of mankind and threatening to destroy it.

We are aware of the endeavours made by the leaders of India in the foreign policy arena to their best to bring about a relaxation of international tension. We can see that we have no small number of common, or rather identical, viewpoints on various international problems, and so it is not surprising that we wish to join forces in the struggle for the preservation of peace and peaceful co-operation among nations.

Our country is well aware of the tremendous efforts made by the leaders and people of India to build up their country and create a better life. We know the enormous difficulties with which the people of India have to contend, but we believe that they will triumph over everything; for in this wonderful country there are enormous riches which have not yet been uncovered, but which will gradually become available to the people and provide them with a better and happier life. It is not difficult to contemplate such prospects, once one is aware of the patience, tenacity, and creative spirit of the people of India. The magnificent successes scored by the people of India in the short time since their independence, in building up and developing their country show that they are on their way to a happier and great future.

Dear friends,

I am grateful to you all, and particularly to Mr. Radhakrishnan presiding here, for giving me the opportunity to explain the direction that development in Yugoslavia is taking and how we look at the major international problems.

I should like now to say that we in the delegation to your wonderful country have met with a welcome far beyond our expectations. I should like, here and now through you, to send our most heart-felt thanks to the entire population of this wonderful country, India.

Enviado por Enrique Ibañes