874.00/1–1446: Telegram

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

top secret

49. At outset of the conversation with MinFonAff reported in mytel 48, January 13, I showed the Minister mytel 47 of January 12 reporting briefly what Vyshinski had said to me and summarizing my subsequent conversation with the PriMin. Stainov said that he had already received a memo on conversation from PriMin and observed that mytel seemed to be an accurate and objective account of what had been said. After the talk reported in my 47 we discussed what the next step should be now that it is clear that Moscow formula for broadening Bulgarian Government cannot be given effect.

The Minister said that it was true formula for Bulgaria did not meet circumstances existing here to degree that Rumanian formula met circumstances obtaining in Rumania. He agreed that this was a principal reason for failure in Bulgarian case; that in Rumania14 there was an advantage to be gained by Opposition in being represented in Government during period of preparations for elections, whereas here elections had already been held and Opposition has no voice in Parliament. Nevertheless, as the formula had been presented he felt Opposition should have given way “to advice of three Allies”. I did not point out here that it is my understanding that Russia alone, not the three Allies together, had assumed the obligation of “friendly advice”. Minister agreed that in politics either domestic or international it is [Page 52] impossible to stand still or merely to mark time; therefore, that all who are concerned with problem of shaping relations to meet the requirements of a peace must now renew search for effective formula.

I asked whether he did not think that holding general elections for new Assembly after termination on March 28 of present session of 26th Ordinary Assembly would prove best way out. His reply was significant, I think, and should, I believe, cause Department to act with greatest caution with respect to any impulse that might exist to judge opposition harshly in its present refusal to enter Government except on terms set forth in its message of January 6 (mytel 20, January 715). Stainov said that under constitution the present Assembly should normally continue for 4 years, that the constitutional precedents for continuance of Ordinary Assembly to the normal end of its mandate, even though the Constitutent Assembly is convoked in meantime, are quite as good as the precedents suggesting necessity to dissolve Ordinary Assembly upon convocation of Constituent body.

This explanation, coming as it does now after visit of Bulgarian Ministers to Moscow and the refusal of opposition to be trapped into silence by Moscow formula, leads me to believe that government and Moscow plan not to dissolve the 26th Ordinary Assembly upon calling Constituent Assembly late this spring or early in summer, but to have the Ordinary Assembly form part of Constituent body and then continue for its normal duration after the Constitutent Assembly has revised the Constitution. Such action would be the holding of only partial elections for the Grand National Assembly effectively forestall any real change in complexion of Constitutent body over present Assembly and at same time would assure present absolute control of the Assembly by the government after termination of work of the Constituent body.

If such is plan, what is explanation of this extraordinary determination of Government not to allow opposition to have any voice in Assembly? One possible explanation lies in fact that world attention has so converged on situation here as to preclude from now on use of widespread terror to shape political views as government and Moscow may wish. But there is another and, I think, more disturbing factor. At any rate, it is my conviction and a conviction shared by many other observers here that the controlling reason may well be the state of relations now obtaining between Russia and Turkey.16

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But to return to the conversation. The Minister was undoubtedly seeking to pour the sweet oil of innocence and reasonableness on my chafing doubts as to the bona fides of the Moscow and Bulgarian Governments’ efforts really to broaden government. Had he sought to deal with the phrase in Moscow agreement “FF Government now being formed” his efforts might have been more convincing. But he avoided this obvious incongruity. I say incongruity because of the facts as we have known them since the vote of confidence reported in mytel 785, December 29.17 In a subsequent conversation with my British colleague the Minister tried to brush aside this point by maintaining that the language of communiqué in Russian did not mean what we, my British colleague and I, apparently thought from English text was intended, namely, that a new cabinet was in formation.

The result of all this, at any rate so far as I am concerned, is the deep conviction that I must now submit for the Department’s serious consideration the view that long-range US and UK interests require at least a minimum of resistance by us here that may not be so essential in the case of other states in eastern Europe bordering on Russia. I believe that this minimum of resistance should be incorporated into a formula of nonrecognition until general elections for a new Ordinary Assembly have been held accompanied by an expression of opinion on our part that we perceive nothing either in local political situation or in international political situation that would render unfeasible the holding of such elections by late spring or early summer. I believe if Russia or Bulgarian Government prove unwilling to accept such a formula which imposes no obligation to broaden Government in intervening period, which contains nothing that seeks to lessen Communist hold on Ministers of Interior and Justice, and which in no way limits legislative program of present session of 26th Ordinary Assembly, then it should be clear beyond a shadow of doubt to most credulous and inexperienced observer that there is enough smoke in situation to prove that danger does exist of real conflagration in Russo-Turkish relations.

Sent Department as 49; repeated Moscow as 25; London as 17 and Ankara as 2.

  1. For documentation regarding the efforts by the United States to assist in the establishment and maintenance of democratic government in Rumania, see pp. 555 ff.
  2. Not printed. The terms demanded by the opposition included the following: Transfer of the Ministries of Interior and Justice to another political party; adherence to the Fatherland Front political program of September 9, 1944; cessation of police terror and disbandment of concentration camps; placing the State radio at the disposal of the opposition; dissolution of the Parliament and the holding of new elections under a new electoral law. (847.00/1–746)
  3. For documentation regarding the interests of the United States in the relations between the Soviet Union and Turkey, see vol. vii, pp. 801 ff.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iv, p. 418.