Foreign ministers presenting 87 nonaligned countries ended a stormy week-long session yesterday with a declaration papering [WORD ILLEGIBLE] deep divisions within their ranks over Cuba, a member of the movement.
The final declaration - the result of bitter behind-the-scences wrangling between moderate and radical nonaligned states - condemned outside attempts to split the movement. Yet, the conference, which was extended an extra day, was able to drop a controversial passage dealing with foreign intervention.
The section which was dropped recognized the right of every country to request foreign assistance - but rejected "all attempts to justify foreign intervention and interference in internal affairs under any pretext whatsoever from whatsoever quarter."
Foreign diplomats said this passage, which was drafted by Yugoslavia, could have been interpreted as criticism of the Soviet Union and Cuba.
Despite opposition from several African countries angered by Cuba's role in Africa, the conference confirmed the choice of Havana as the site for the next nonaligned summit conference. It will be held from Sept. 3 to 7, 1979.
By holding the preliminary ministrial conference in the Yugoslav capital, the delegates were returning to the sources of their movemnet. It was here that the first nonaligned summit meeting, attended by 25 states, was held in 1961. Today, despite the ritual talk about unity, the message coming out of Belgrade is that there are now two opposite views about the meaning of the word nonalignment.
When Cuba's vice president, Carlos Rafael Rodriquez, was denouncing the Western press at a news conference for grossly exaggerating the differences within the movement, his foreign minister was attacking 15 fellow nonaligned states as the lackeys of "Yankee imperalism." In reply, countries ranging from Egypt to Cambodia accused Cuba of faithfully carrying out the Kremlin's orders in Africa.
Other bilateral disputes that those between Morocco and Algeria emerged at the conference included over the status of Western Sahara, Cambodia and Vietnam over their border, and Ethiopia and Somalia over the Ogaden. In addition, China was vigorougly attacked by pro-Soviet states which accused it of aggression against Vietnma and harboring aspirations in Africa.
These differences have, of course, been simmering a long time beneath the surface. In Belgrade, however, they were aired in public, forced many states to line up behind one or other of their respective champions.
On the one side was President Tito of Yugoslavia, the sole surviving founding father of the non-aligned movement, who voiced deep concern in his opening address at attempts to identify it with pro-Soviet policies. At 86, he is clearly worried that a movement which he launched to secure greater support for Yugoslavia's independence is in danger of being subverted from within.
On the other side was Cuba's Fidel Castro, who clearly feels his commitment to the cause of national liberation in the Third World makes him a suitable candidate to succeed Tito as the movement's preeminent figure. His theory is that the movement's oppostition to imperialism and colonialism makes it the natural ally of the Soviet bloc - a suggestion that alarms Yugoslav officials.
The choice of Havana as the sire for the next nonaligned summit conference probably precipitated the crisis. As host for the meeting, Cuba is responsible for drafting conference resolutions - a task the Yugoslavs fear will provide it with an opportunity for imposing its own views. Last week's ministerial conference in Belgrade was thus seen as the final opportunity to roll back the Cuban tide.
Predictably, neither side got what it wanted. The Yugoslavs, however, did succeed in including a passing reference to "all forms of foreign domination and hegemoney" - words which are often used to refer to Soviet interference.
For the Yugoslavs and their supporters, part of the problem is that the nonaligned movement is trapped in the language of the 1950s and 1960s. As many speakers pointed out, the concept, of nonalignment was born of the struggle by many African and Asian countries for independence. With the end of colonialism, the problems facing these two continents have changed - but the slogans of nonalignment have remained much the same.
One reason is the simple question of procedure at most international conferences. Given the consensus principle, arguments are usually resolved by referring back to language agreed to at a previous meeting. Faced with a controversial new issue, like Soviet or Cuban involvement in Africa, delegates are largely restricted to repeating old slogans about the evils of colonialism.
Thus, while Yugoslav officials have been claiming that it is the Cubans who are trying to change the aims of the nonaligned movement, the truth is that the Cubans have a good deal of linguistic justification for their position. Their delegation came to the meeting armed with previous resolutions and even Tito's old speeches condemning imperialism.
A glance back at resolutions passed by the first nonaligned summit and subsequent conferences largely bears out the Cuban view. The documents are laced with attacks on imperialism and neo-colonialism, but are apparently oblivious to the dangers of hegemonism.
Another crucial change has been the attitude taken by the Soviet leadership towards the nonaligned movement. When it was first formed, their strategy was to ignore it. Today they are attempting to woo it through such intermediaries as Cuba, Angola, and Vietnam - a process which the moderate members fear has led to the movement's polarization.