874.00/3–2946: Telegram

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


276. Deptel 95, March 26. The Secretary’s message encouraging Govt and Opposition to implement Moscow decision in spirit of conciliation received yesterday morning and contents orally conveyed during course of afternoon to PriMin, Regents and Opposition leaders leaving memo of oral statement with each.

Night before PriMin had told me that since noon of that day (March 27) prospects for understanding had lessened. He complained particularly of the intransigence of Lulchev on election issue and of demand of Socialists for replacement of Yugov by another Communist if Ministry of Interior could not be ceded to non-Communist because Yugov’s name so generally associated with all terror since September 9 as to have made him ogre in minds of most peasants. Georgiev had left me at one o’clock on morning of 28th stating that he was quite as anxious for helpful message from the Secretary as myself and that in hopes of having such a message before too late he would “string out” negotiations with Opposition for another 24 hours. He also knowingly left me under impression of mytel 266, March 25 that he was prepared to cede Ministry of Justice and Assistant Minister of Interior to opposition as well as a second Ministry so as fully to meet conditions of Moscow Accord. PriMin’s disposition to make these concessions to Opposition had also been confirmed to me by notes that Opposition members had taken during their [Page 93] various conversations with him that had begun on March 24. Furthermore, PriMin had on March 25 been made aware of contents mytel 266 by Stainov to whom I had presented that telegram in draft form on that date with question of whether or not he, Stainov, as important member of Zveno Party considered démarche proposed therein to be political expedient from point of view of all parties concerned with implementation of Moscow Agreement. After careful examination contents that telegram and several suggestions from him for amendments thereof which were made, Stainov had told me by all means I should send message. Later on same day I had showed message to Petkov as purpose of these precautions was to assure that my knowledge of state of negotiations between Govt and Opposition was exact and that I should not be proposing an expression of US interest that might “backfire”.

Yesterday morning PriMin received opposition leaders to hear their final reply on terms that he had discussed during course of negotiations since March 24. I was received to convey Secretary’s message immediately after. To my great surprise PriMin said when apprised of Secretary’s gratification over progress represented by reported offer Ministry Justice that only a short time before during his talks with Opposition leaders had he learned of misunderstanding that had developed without his knowledge during course of negotiations, namely that while Opposition had anticipated obtaining Ministry of Justice, he himself had never proposed ceding that Ministry to Agrarians of Opposition but only of taking Ministry of Justice away from Communists and giving it to Obbov Agrarians.83 I explained to him my great surprise at this statement but he persisted in this version of what he had had in mind.

Asked what ministries would be offered to Opposition he became evasive and said that would depend on how matters turned out from present state of affairs to end of negotiations, but that at any rate situation with respect to opposition was not sufficiently ripe to consider ceding to Petkov Agrarians any such important Ministry as that of Justice. He then said he no longer believed compromise would be found as Opposition, particularly Lulchev and his Socialists, were proving “most difficult” on election issue. On leaving I asked point-blank whether if Opposition were finally to accept his offer of simultaneous elections (please see mytel 266, March 25) date to be determined later by Govt and not during process of present negotiations but to be held not later than September 15, he would do anything [Page 94] about Ministry of Justice and on Assistant Minister of Interior for Opposition. He replied that he could give no such assurance.

I left PriMin with feeling that subsequent to noon March 27 orders had come from somewhere to abandon previous apparent line of conciliation (perhaps Russian reaction to events transpiring in New York meeting of Security Council84) or that all along govt had been playing game devised to ascertain final limits of concessions opposition prepared to make in order to perfect for subsequent use of Russian in negotiations with US and UK of argument that opposition and opposition alone responsible for failure Moscow Accord in Bulgarian case.

It is officially announced this evening that “two Opposition groups have again submitted demands to PriMin which are considered unacceptable and that efforts of past few days have not eliminated conflict of views. PriMin will today resume conversations with representatives of FF parties.”

Sent Dept as 276; repeated Moscow as 130 and London as 113.

  1. Alexander Obbov was the leader of a dissident group of members of the Bulgarian National Agrarian Union who were included in the membership of the Fatherland Front.
  2. The United Nations Security Council was considering the Iranian complaint regarding the failure of the Soviet Union to withdraw its Armed Forces from Iranian territory. For documentation on this matter, see vol. vii, pp. 289 ff.