Memorandum by the Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the Secretary of State23

It is reported by the press that Vyshinski’s-mission to Sofia failed because the representatives of the National Agrarian Party and the Social Democratic Party advanced terms for their participation in the Government which exceeded the program contemplated by the decisions of the Moscow Conference.

Although no reports have been received as to the nature of these terms, it would seem that the opposition groups in Bulgaria refused to put forward candidates for inclusion in the Bulgarian Government because the Bulgarian Government would not agree to make certain adjustments, in all probability relating to the formation of a more representative type of government, the ending of the persecution of the opposition and the neutralization of certain ministries. The Moscow Decision on Bulgaria has therefore not been fulfilled. The [Page 58] question thus arises as to the position of the United States Government with regard to Bulgaria.

In consideration of this question the following points should be borne in mind:

Recognition of Bulgaria would constitute approval of the Bulgarian Government in its present form and would strengthen that government within and without the country. We do not wish to do this. We have made it plain on a number of occasions that we do not consider this Government as truly representative of the Bulgarian people.
Recognition might well be considered contrary to the Moscow Decision which states that the United States and United Kingdom Governments would recognize Bulgaria when they were satisfied that the friendly advice of the Soviet Government had been accented by the Bulgarian Government and when the additional representatives had been included in the government.
The Soviet and Bulgarian Governments undoubtedly desire that normal relations be established between the United States and Bulgarian Governments in order that the peace treaty might be concluded. As a matter of tactics it would be better to delay recognition and let the next move come from the Russians or the Bulgarians. Following the recognition of Rumania,24 Bulgaria will be the last satellite county with which the United States and the United Kingdom do not maintain normal relations. In order to adjust this situation it is possible that the Bulgarian Government might eventually be willing to make certain concessions, especially with respect to the granting of civil liberties, which would enable the opposition to enter the Government or which would permit future elections to be held on a freer basis. And it is precisely these concessions that we are striving for.
It is feared that recognition of the Bulgarian Government would be an indication that we do not intend strongly to adhere to the principles we stand for. This might have a disastrous effect in Rumania and might result in the Groza Government flaunting all the assurances it has made with respect to free and unfettered elections, the grant of the required freedoms, etc.
It is not believed that the failure to recognize Bulgaria would delay the preliminary drafting of the peace treaties and there appears to be no reason why work should not go forward on them. The Russians would have no valid reason to oppose this on grounds that we are not yet ready to recognize Bulgaria.
It is understood that the British favor withholding recognition because of the aforementioned reasons.

In view of the above it is recommended that we let matters rest as they stand, i.e. withhold recognition of the Bulgarian Government for the time being, and get on with the drafting of the treaties. The [Page 59] situation can be reexamined at a later date in the light of developments. In any event, the reaction in Bulgaria to the recognition of Rumania or some move by the Russians should be awaited before any action is taken. Some new formula for adjustment might then be found.

  1. The source text is located in the Moscow Embassy Files for 1946, Lot F–96, Acc. No. 59 A 543, Part 6, Box 369, File 710 Bulgaria.

    Ambassador Harriman, following his participation in the work of the Tripartite Commission on Rumania in Bucharest during the first 10 days of 1946, traveled to London where he conferred with the Secretary of State who was in London for the meetings of the First Part of the First Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

  2. The United States recognized the Rumanian Government on February 5, 1946: for documentation regarding the decision to recognize Rumania, see pp. 555 ff.