874.00/2–1646: Telegram

The Counselor of the Department of State (Cohen) to the Secretary of State


1968. Personal for the Secretary from Cohen. Deptel 1416, Feb. 12, noon.57 I saw Vyshinsky today and outlined to him our position on Bulgarian question along the lines of our telegram 1299, Feb. 2. I made it plain that we felt that the Moscow decision envisaged an agreement between the Bulgarian Government and the Opposition [Page 76] parties regarding the participation of two members of those parties in the Government and not a mere pro forma addition of such members. For these reasons we did not feel we could put any pressure on the Opposition parties to enter the government on terms which they regard as violating their political principles. I added that, since the Soviet Govt had taken the initiative in this matter, our Govt would like to know what the Soviet Govt had in mind as the next step. I concluded by saying that I was sure we still had the same objective, even though the Moscow decision had not justified our hopes. Vyshinsky stated that the Soviet Govt had fulfilled its task and with some difficulty had prevailed upon the Bulgarian Government to accept the Moscow decision, but the “impossible and insulting” demands of the Opposition parties for the dissolution of the National Assembly and the installation of a new govt had made the execution of the Moscow decision impossible. No such conditions were in the Moscow decision and could not be entertained. In this connection, Vyshinsky repeated his accusations of Barnes’ attitude and activities. He said that there was nothing more for the Soviet or Bulgarian Governments to do but that we might use our “moral influence” with the opposition to accept the Moscow decision. If, however, the Moscow decision could not be accepted by the Opposition, the situation would remain as it had been before. Elections to the Constitutent Assembly would take place in March and the Opposition parties would have an opportunity to participate and put forward their candidates. Vyshinsky concluded that as for the freedoms, he himself had read the Opposition press in Bulgaria which was very outspoken.

I again made it clear that we could not undertake pressure on the Opposition which would be interference in Bulgarian internal affairs. As far as Barnes was concerned, I said we had no reason to believe that he had interfered in an internal situation as Mr. Vyshinsky thought. I concluded by saying that we still hoped that the Bulgarian Government and the opposition could find a mutually satisfactory basis for the inclusion of the two representatives in the Govt. Until that time we hoped that nothing would be done by either side to acerbate the tension in Bulgaria.

Vyshinsky expressed doubt as to the possibilities of the Bulgarian Govt and the Opposition agreeing or that the situation would quiet down. When I brought up the Greek reparations, Vyshinsky said he was not up to date on that question, but he knew that the Greek demands had been “fantastic” with no relation to reality. He promised to look into the matter.

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I feel our position is clear to Vyshinsky, but he made it plain that the Soviet Government is not prepared to put forward any new suggestions but let events in Bulgaria take their course.

  1. Not printed, but see footnote 52, p. 72.