874.00/1–1245: Telegram

The United States Representative in Bulgaria ( Barnes ) to the Secretary of State

30. General Crane and I dined alone with General Biryusov and his wife yesterday eve. Three hours of conversation thru an interpreter served primarily to emphasize once again how deep seated are General Biryusov’s suspicions of the British.

The General confirmed his part in the political crisis is over the re-integration of officers and men into the Bulgarian Army as reported in my telegrams No. 11, December 7, 9 p.m. [a.m.] and 12, December 8, 3 p.m.25 and his hostility to G. M. Dimitrov (see my No. 25 of January 9, 3 p.m.). He implied the belief that the British, through the Agrarians probably, had had a hand in the political crisis of early December and expressed the opinion that General Oxley seeks a large leva account under Article Fifteen of the armistice convention to pay Bulgarian agents of British policy and otherwise to support Bulgarian opinion. He quoted Churchill as having stated recently in Athens that British action in Greece seeks to save Greece “from the danger from the north” and added that in the circumstances even if his accumulated distrust of Oxley were eliminated from the situation by the replacement of this particular officer, nothing would be gained as regards the overall picture as it was British policy (action agents) that was the distrusting factor.

Biryusov is obviously inexperienced in political matters. Perhaps in judging British policy he cannot see the woods for the trees, but he is by no means shy on intelligence, alertness or initiative. He is a man of great force of character, a fighting soldier of outstanding leadership, so it is said, and a devotee of “étatism” with a considerable knowledge of the weaknesses of all forms of government except that which his upbringing … has caused him wholeheartedly to adore. He told me last night that Russia’s roots in Bulgaria were in the Bulgarian people; therefore that even the sacrifice of Bulgarian bourgeois leaders of traditional pro-Russian sentiment to the spirit of the times in Bulgaria was of no concern to him. His only interest in the leaders of the former democratic parties (this seems to include the present leaders of the Agrarian Party) is the fear that they, as bourgeois-minded individuals of prominence, may be susceptible of manipulation by interests politically hostile to Russia.

Biryusov appears not to distrust us as he does the British. How fully appearances reflect his convictions on this point is of course a matter for conjecture. I have been told by Bulgarians who were in [Page 143] the Armistice Commission that went to Moscow that Molotov made it clear to members of that Committee that Russian policy accepts Anglo-Saxon solidarity in a crisis as an established fact.

Under the circumstances, it occurs to me that perhaps a most useful purpose might be served if I were authorized to convey to Biryusov in some future informal talk, such as the one of last night, the substance of the October 25, 1944 report to the Policy Committee regarding the United States interests and policy in eastern and southeastern Europe26 and of the recommendations of October 23, 1944 concerning United States policy with regard to Bulgaria.27 I realize that in Washington this suggestion may present many angles that are not apparent here. On the other hand, each day brings to those of us in Bulgaria new evidence to the effect that the controlling factor in Russian-British-American relations in this country is the Soviet capacity for suspicion and the extent to which the agents of Soviet policy in Bulgaria are suspicious of Britain’s designs in the Balkans.

Sent to Department; repeated to Moscow as 15.

  1. Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iii, pp. 498 and 499, respectively.
  2. The report by a subcommittee of the Policy Committee, PC–8 (Revised), was prepared by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle) and the Directors of four area offices. It emphasized “the independent interest of the United States” in the areas concerned and stated: “In Eastern and Southeastern Europe and the Near East, as elsewhere, the United States Government should consistently maintain and actively endeavor to further the following general principles irrespective of the type of territorial or political settlements which may result from the war:
    • “1. The right of peoples to choose for themselves without outside interference the type of political, social, and economic systems they desire, so long as they conduct their affairs in such a way as not to menace the peace and security of others.
    • “2. Equality of opportunity, as against the setting up of a policy of exclusion, in commerce, transit and trade; and freedom to negotiate, either through government agencies or private enterprise, irrespective of the type of economic system in operation.
    • “3. The right of access to all countries on an equal and unrestricted basis of bona fide representatives of the recognized press and information agencies of other nations engaged in gathering news and other forms of public information for dissemination to the public in their own countries; and the right to transmit information gathered by them to points outside such territories without hindrance or discrimination.
    • “4. Freedom for American philanthropic and educational organizations to carry on their activities in the respective countries on the basis of most-favored-nation treatment.
    • “5. General protection of American citizens and the protection and furtherance of legitimate American economic rights, existing or potential.” (711.00/11–144)
  3. Annex D to PC–8 by the same subcommittee related to implementation of the points in footnote supra and stated:

    “Briefly, our position is that Bulgaria must withdraw from all Greek and Yugoslav territory. We would favor some subsequent arrangement for free port facilities or other economic arrangement which would meet the more genuine need of the Bulgarians in their famous demands for an outlet to the Aegean.

    “In the economic sphere attention must be given to the arrangements under which the Bulgarian Government sets up its export markets with particular reference to tobacco, since this is a product in which American companies will be directly interested on a fairly large scale, expecting to operate on the basis of free enterprise.” (711.00/11–144)