Momir N. Ninković

Establishment of Cooperation Between the SFRY and the COMECON in 1964*

Abstract: This article analyzes the motives for establishing cooperation between Yugoslavia and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). The course of the negotiations is shown, as well as, the conclusion of the Agreement on Yugoslavia’s participation within the organs of the COMECON. The paper is based on unpublished documents from the archives of the Republic of Serbia and the Russian Federation, as well as other relevant literature.

Key words: Yugoslavia, Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, The Soviet Union, Economic Integration


            The rise of Yugoslav-Soviet relations in the first half of the 1960s had enabled the establishment of cooperation between the SFRY and the CMEA (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, also COMECON). A number of factors were pushing Yugoslavia to get closer to the COMECON (difficulties in economic relations with the West, the strengthening of integration processes in the CMEA, the limitations of “bilateralism” in economic cooperation with the members of the CMEA). The Yugoslav desire for establishing cooperation coincided with the plans of the Kremlin to expand the CMEA. In addition, Moscow wanted to influence Yugoslav politics through the CMEA and to get the SFRY closer into the fold of the “socialist camp.” At the negotiations conduced in early 1964, the basic principles and modes of Yugoslavia's cooperation with the CMEA were agreed. Two forms of cooperation had been agreed: 1) “active cooperation,” which implied the involvement of Yugoslavs in the works of certain commissions; 2) Yugoslavia's observer status at the sessions of the COMECON organs, which had an informative role. Due to foreign policy reasons (the preparation of the Second Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement), Belgrade kept prolonging the finalization of the Agreement for several months. Instead of being concluded in the spring, the Agreement on the participation of the SFRY in the organs of the COMECON was finalized on September 17, 1964. The SFRY did not become a member in that way, but created the preconditions for cooperation on matters of “mutual interest.” The Agreement was broadly conceived and represented a good basis for cooperation between the SFRY and the CMEA in the decades to come.

* The author expresses his gratitude to Đurađ Đurić for the translation of this article into English.