Key notes on the Crisis at Havana Summit

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The crisis which kept brewing within the movement, came to the surface by the time the Summit Conference was to be held at Havana in Cuba. This crisis had four aspects—

(1) Criticism of Cuba’s role:

Cuba which has consistently and persistently taken up the cause of Soviet Russia, was the main target of attack. This attack was on the instance of Western powers, and China. President Carter described Cuba as nothing more than a satellite of the Soviet Union. Chancellor Schmidt of West Germany referred to Cuba’s membership in the non-aligned as a bad joke.

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British Under Secretary for Political Affairs also questioned Cuba’s capacity to be the chairman of the non-aligned movement. China also regarded Cuba as satellite of the Soviet Union. There was a fear that Yugoslavia would also oppose Cuba’s presence.

So, the countries which played to the tune of Western powers and China, pleaded for Cuba’s outright expulsion from the move­ment because, it was argued, Cuba was too closely allied with the Soviet Union and was not at all a non-aligned country. But this met with strong resistance especially from Yugoslavia which realised that any such attempt would destroy the non-aligned movement.

The second strategy was to ask for a change in the venue of the summit since Cuba’s role, where it was to be held, had disqualified her as a potential chairman of the movement.

Somalia and Zaire objected to the presence of Cuban armies in Africa. Foreign Minister of Somalia said: “A highly disturbing example of the dangers of foreign intervention in African affairs is the strange role assumed by Cuba in the Horn of Africa.

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A supposedly non-aligned country has chosen to ally itself with the forces of colonialism, oppression and hegemonies. It has allowed itself to be used as a proxy for a super-power, namely the Soviet Union, in the promotion of letter’s designs and ambitions within the context of super-power rivalry and competition.” India and Sri Lanka opposed this move.

Thirdly, many heads of States were asked not to attend the meeting. This was just to downgrade the Summit. A number of States were Hobbied but this did not succeed.

Fourthly, it was also on cards that the pro-western States should disrupt the Conference proceedings by raising and promoting miner issues.

Fifthly, the opponents of Cuba called for a number of structural changes about the composition of the Bureau making Cuba only a presi­ding officer and not the executive chairman. But all this did not materi­alise. No nation^ called for expulsion of Cuba or change of avenue of the summit.

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(2) Criticism of Egypt:

Some of the Arab countries pleaded for the expulsion of Egypt from the non-aligned movement on the plea that Egypt has betrayed the cause of the Palestinians. Egypt had signed Camp David Accord with the USA and Egypt-Israel peace treaty under which they resolved to solve their conflict amicably.

The Bureau Meeting of the non-aligned which met at Havana in 1978 considered that any effort to establish a just and lasting peace in the Middle East must necessarily include the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied territories and the recognition of the Palestinian people’s inalienable national rights.

India and Yugoslavia were bitterly opposed to the explosion of Egypt which was the founding member of the non-aligned. No country raised this question at the summit.

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(3) Seating of Kampuchea:

Another ticklish problem pose on the question of seating of Kampuchea where the Heng Samarin Govern­ment replaced the Pol Pot regime by force. The Samarin Government occupied Phnom Penh (the capital) while Pol Pot continued to enjoy control over other area.

Pol Pot regime insisted that they still represented Kampuchea whereas the Democratic Socialistic Republic of Kampuchea stated that since it had the formal power in the capital of the State, it rightfully represented the people of that country. Vietnam and Cuba pleaded for the ouster of the Pol Pot regime from the movement.

Yugoslavia considered it improper for the movement to make a judgement about the legitimacy of a government which was still held in question. Some pleaded that it was improper to recognise a Government put into power as a result of foreign intervention.

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China tried its best to put pressure through its supporting countries but a majority of the members of the non-aligned movement never took it seriously to get seat for the Pol Pot regime. So, both the regimes were allowed to attend without a right to vote.

A very important constitutional issue was resolved. It was that non- aligned movement does not take upon itself to decide the legitimacy of a particular Government especially when it has control over the entire territory.

Indeed, number of non-aligned countries have come to power in a variety of ways. For examples Sri Lanka and India changed Govern­ment by election, Ghana by a military coup, and Uganda as a result of support from foreign troops from Tanzania.

(4) Disputes between Non-aligned Countries:

There were dis­putes between the non-aligned countries which threatned to disrupt the movement. The problems of Timor, Western Sahara and the Horn of Africa need special mention. The Bureau meeting of the non-aligned held at Havana in May, 1978 (prior to the actual meeting) said: “The Bureau noted with regret that disputes between some non-aligned countries had led to conflict situations.

It recommended that the non-aligned countries should seek peaceful solutions to disputes in accordance with the principles of non-alignment and of the Charter of the United Nations on the basis, of strict mutual respect for independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference in internal affairs and the right of peoples to unimpeded national and social development.”

Crises at the New Delhi Summit. By the time the summit was held at New Delhi in 1983, the following crises had made their appearance—

(1) Iran-Iraq War:

The continuous war for over two years between Iran and Iraq was the biggest challenge to the non-aligned movement. The non-aligned countries maintained from the beginning that the war was harmful to both Iran and Iraq and to peace in the region. They made repeated efforts to help and the war on the basis of the principles of non- alignment but failed. The summit was taken as an opportunity to renew the earnest appeal to both the countries to end war.

(2) Seating of Kampuchea:

The problem of seating Kampuchea continued as it was at the summit held at Havana in 1979. The non- aligned Foreign Ministers reached a consensus to keep the Kampuchean seat vacant as at the last summit. Divergent views were expressed in the debate on the Kampuchean seat.

It became impossible to arrive at a consensus on the seating of either party. There was a general sense of satisfaction and relief as the Kampuchean issue could detract summit’s attention from problems of peace and development.

(3) Afghanistan Issue:

The developments in Afghanistan by the intervention of Soviet Russia brought about cold water atmosphere in the world. Pakistan wanted Soviet action to be condemned. This could have brought a serious rift in the movement. However, a general resolution without naming Soviet Russia or Afghanistan was passed condemning intervention.

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