874.01/2–2746: Telegram

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

us urgent

186. Knowing Foreign Minister Stainov as I do, I always fear when US views on matters relating to Bulgaria are communicated to him that he will deal with these views very much as the squirrel does with a nut or at least will do no more about the matter than consult secretively with his Zveno68 superior, Prime Minister Georgiev, who also has inclinations of squirrel when it comes to subjects that might prove embarrassing if known to general public.

Therefore when I sent Stainov note communicating aide-mémoire Mr. Cohen handed General Stoichev (Department’s 58 February 2269) I took precaution of letting Senior Regent Ganev know that US views with respect to Moscow decision had finally been expressed to Bulgarian Government. I was the more convinced of necessity for this course because several days earlier Bulgarian official press had carried news reports allegedly from Paris and Bucharest that Stoichev had seen Secretary Byrnes and had presented to him Bulgarian Government’s views with respect to Opposition’s “refusal to carry out Moscow decision”.

Ganev has now tried on three occasions to learn from Stainov and Prime Minister whether Bulgarian Government has received any communication from US Government setting forth latter’s views on meaning of Moscow decision. Each effort has been met with denial.

I also felt it necessary in view of wily character of both Minister for Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister to let Russian Minister Kirsanov know that US views on subject had been communicated to Bulgarian Government. I told him that what had been said to government was identical with what had been said to his own government so that he might be forewarned not to accept any distorted version put forth by Stainov and Georgiev. This was on occasion of conversation with Marshal Tolbukhin briefly reported my telegram 180, February 26.70

In connection with foregoing I have noted Vyshinski’s comment to Mr. Cohen that “we might use our ‘moral influence’ with Opposition [Page 82] to accept Moscow decision” reported in infotel February 19, 8 a.m.71 which was received here in decipherable form only yesterday. I hope Department will agree with me that Stainov and Georgiev should not be allowed to conceal from opposition precise nature of our views on Moscow decision.

I have also noted Department’s view (infotel February 6, 3 p.m. and European Affairs Weekly Political Review February 1372) that if matters in Bulgaria are allowed to drift it will become increasingly difficult to find satisfactory solution to Bulgarian impasse and that any long delay is bound to lead to reign of terror against Opposition leaders.

In this connection, especially now that our views on Moscow decision have been expressed, I should like to repeat what I said at end my telegram 50, February 2,73 namely, that “we have already bought this Bulgarian ‘pig in a poke’ too many times. Rather let’s have Russia do a bit of bidding or stand firm on position that what is bought in Moscow at least for a third time shall be paid for only on delivery and that problem of delivery is Russia’s alone. In this event Opposition will look after itself, knowing that we have neither abandoned it nor Yalta”.

I repeat foregoing not merely to give point to argument that we should not allow Stainov and Georgiev to withhold our views on Moscow decision but also because I am strongly of opinion that fear of “drift” in Bulgarian case can only cause us to cede further and further to Russia which means gradually abandoning our moral position here and failure to receive anything in return. In my opinion there is not one iota of evidence to be adduced in support of view that Russian policy in Bulgaria is shaped primarily by exaggerated feelings of insecurity and not by age-old Russian concepts of way to reach warm water and to cut British communications through eastern Mediterranean.

Hence it is my view that until Russia is made to feel through US, UK and United Nations support of Turkey that no “soft spots” exist on Dardanelles or Aegean we cannot hope for any real amelioration of Bulgarian situation. If Russia is not made to feel this then we cannot hope to do anything concrete about dictatorship and presence of Red Army in Bulgaria for years to come. But if we maintain our moral position while awaiting and participating in events that will make Russia understand that she cannot cut vital British communication lines and alter balance of world power by ultimately destroying [Page 83] British Empire, then we will not have sacrified a situation in Bulgaria and should help greatly in the end to keep Russia behind lower reaches of Danube River beyond which she certainly has no legitimate right to be.

In other words, I am strongly of opinion that while it would be foolhardy to expect to solve problem of restricting Russian activity in southeastern Europe to furtherance of legitimate Russian interests merely by seeking to protect rights of Bulgarian Opposition under Yalta Declaration, nevertheless not to do everything possible to assure these rights would afford Russia and local Communists such an immediate advantage as to complicate problem beyond measure. Hence it would seem better to let matters “drift” and retain our position of non-recognition than to hope that by reversal of policy we could influence Russians and Georgiev government for the better. Everyone concerned would interpret this as weakness and situation here from our point of view could only become worse. As matters now stand our views are in line with vast majority of Bulgarian people and with only true democratic mass party of country, the Agrarian Party. All admire us greatly for stand we have taken to date and confidently hope that if we quietly persist in views we now hold political liberties and prospects for peace in this part of world will increase; otherwise that the future is black for freedom and peace-loving peoples in Balkan Peninsula.

Sent Department as 186; repeated to London as 80 and Moscow as 92.

  1. Both Prime Minister Georgiev and Foreign Minister Stainov were leaders in the Peoples Union Zveno, one of the Bulgarian political parties forming the Fatherland Front.
  2. The telegram under reference transmitted the text of the aide-mémoire of February 22, from Cohen to Stoichev; see footnote 60, p. 78.
  3. Not printed; in it Barnes reported that he urged Marshal Tolbukhin to utilize his presence in Sofia to bring about a spirit of cooperation between the Bulgarian Government and the Opposition (875.00/2–2646). Tolbukhin visited Sofia to participate in Red Army Day celebrations.
  4. Not printed; for the report on the Cohen-Vyshinsky conversation of February 16, see telegram 1968, February 16, from London, p. 75.
  5. Neither printed.
  6. Telegram 113, February 2, 1946, from Sofia, repeated to London as 50, not printed.