Abstract: This article deals with the analysis of the fundamental factors that contributed to the establishment of an extremely close Yugoslav-Burmese partnership during the first decades of the Cold War, a relationship which had a significant impact on shaping global non-alignment at the time. After gaining independence from colonial rule in Burma’s case or expulsion from one of the blocs in Yugoslav case, the strong desire of both countries to assume a position outside the direct control of the great powers and their efforts to establish an authentic socio-political system at home had a decisive influence, not only on the character of bilateral relations, but also on the strivings of the post-colonial and non-bloc worlds to find their own path in the world arena.

Keywords: Yugoslavia, Burma, non-alignment, socialism, partnership, Cold War


Since Burma’s independence and Yugoslavia’s disassociation from the Soviet bloc, these two countries have developed a specific partnership at all levels, regardless of their geographic distance. In many ways, Yugoslavia represented a true role model for Burma – a country that followed a specific road to socialism, proclaimed a non-aligned position in world politics, while skillfully balancing between the great powers, and receiving economic and military aid along the way, without any strings attached. Yugoslav state-building and international efforts proved to be more valuable and therefore fully acceptable for the majority in the Burmese leadership as a model to be emulated to the greatest extent. It was this ideological and foreign policy attraction that brought the two nations together, primarily reflecting itself in their joint determination to actively pursue strategy of non-alignment abroad, while building-up a socialist state at home, but quite different from the one represented by the states of the socialist camp. These two outstanding guiding thoughts were equally effective and decisive factors binding these two countries together. There were not many countries during those years that faced similar challenges along their borders, while remaining steadfast about their foreign policy and domestic principles. Therefore, it was natural for both Belgrade and Rangoon to forge this kind of specific partnership. Furthermore, Burma’s proclamation of the “third force ”as an official foreign policy doctrine was substantially influenced by Yugoslavia’s instructive experiences with the Soviet bloc. Over time, Rangoon became Belgrade’s “window” to Asia, connecting European and Asian issues into one coherent picture, while concurrently promoting the true meaning of “active coexistence” and different paths into socialism. As for Burma, joining hands with Yugoslavia was a crucial means of circumventing superpower and regional pressures, while establishing stable national institutions that could preserve fragile sovereignty within hostile geopolitical surroundings. Burma was definitely not a random choice for the Yugoslav leadership, but a major component of a new foreign and domestic policy thinking gradually evolving since1948, while the same goes for the leadership in Rangoon when faced its many domestic and international challenges.