The movement of nonaligned nations has become more pragmatic and less vociferous, according to Lazar Mojsov, foreign minister of Yugoslavia, one of the movement's founding nations.
What pulls these ideologically, economically, and geographically disparate nations together is still stronger than what pulls them apart, he told The Christian Science Monitor.
The movement is being strengthened by the change of chairmanship from Cuba (considered too-radical left) to India (another founding nation); and the expected admission of Venezuela, Colombia, and Belize, which will bring the membership tally to 100.
A funny thing happened to the movement on its way to Baghdad, where it was due to hold its summit last month. With the Iraq-Iran war raging, most member states did not want to appear to take sides. Leaders agreed to meet in New Delhi next spring instead.
Still, Mr. Mojsov admits, the movement has been weakened and split by:
* Increasing tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States, which can force some members to become less nonaligned.
* Greater dependence on external aid, loans, and trade during the worldwide economic crisis.
* Conflicts between third-world countries (Ethiopia and Somalia, China and Vietnam, Iraq and Iran).
* Nonaligned countries sometimes being forced to seek shelter under the umbrella of one or the other superpower.
What continues to help keep the nonaligned together, in Mojsov's view, are ''the five D's'':
Decolonization (Namibia as a current example); development (the demand for better economic relations with industrialized nations); disarmament (the interest in slowing down weapons spending by the Soviets and Americans); detente (lessening the danger of big-power confrontations); and democratization (gaining more independence from the superpowers in international arenas and domestic policymaking).
Also, despite a split in the Organization of African Unity, the nonaligned movement has shown strength in regional unity:
* In Fez, Morocco, last month, Arab countries found unity again in taking a stand on the Palestinian and Israeli problem.
* In Lusaka, Zambia, last month the heads of the ''front-line'' states (Mozambique, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) agreed to encourage Angola to negotiate bilaterally with the US.
* The members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia) helped force a coalition of exiled Kampuchean groups against the occupation of their country by Soviet-backed Vietnam.
* In Stockholm, nine European nations (three nonaligned, six neutral or inclined to nonalignment) agreed to act more forcefully toward reactivating the European Conference on Security and Cooperation to lessen East-West differences.
* In Niamey, Niger, the Islamic countries issued a communique that addressed the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in clear terms.
At a meeting of foreign ministers for the opening of the UN General Assembly last month, the group decided to ''reassert ourselves,'' he adds. ''Not to condemn the Russian bear or the American eagle, but to try and act as a bridge between them and to encourage a dialogue between them.''
The movement's top priority at this time, he says, is to seek ways to reduce the arms race: ''Let the two superpowers find a balance of power at a lower level.''