874.00/3–2946: Telegram

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

us urgent

282. After leaving Petkov (please see mytel 277, today’s date)85 I called on Russian Minister Kirsanov and told him of contents of Deptel 95, March 26. I handed to him in form of memorandum of conversation Russian translation of substance of that telegram.

Kirsanov reacted most unfavorably to message. He said it was evidence of fact, as already stated in form of complaint by his Govt to Govt of US, that I was constantly interfering in Bulgarian political situation without any rhyme or reason and certainly without any right. He asserted that he himself had not even seen any member of Bulgarian Govt since political crisis had been opened by resignation [Page 95] of Georgiev Govt. However he said in almost same breath that facts stated in Secretary’s message were incorrect; that at no time had Georgiev ever thought of conceding Ministry of Justice to opposition. He then launched into long tirade against American policy in Spain and asked how could US justify its “interference in Bulgarian affairs” while at same time it paid no attention in Spain to rightful insistence of Moscow against continued diplomatic relations with Franco by so-called friends of Soviet Russia. From Spanish situation he proceeded to tell me how surprising it must be to many of South American countries that while US “interferes” with Russian affairs in Bulgaria, Russia engages in no such activity at expense of US in South America. He also observed that Moscow Accord restricted “advice to Bulgarian Govt” to Russia alone.

I thought it best to wait until he was in calmer mood to point out that on Feb 17 [16] in London Mr. Vyshinski had said to Mr. Cohen that we might seek to use our influence with Opposition to assure implementation of Moscow Accord and that Vyshinski had also spoken during conversation with Mr. Cohen in London about elections in Bulgaria at end of March.86 I did, however, point out to him that Secretary’s message was drafted quite as much for effect that it might have in rendering opposition reasonable and conciliatory as in having similar effect on Govt and that in any event it was message of such nature as to make it clear to Russia and all others concerned that US was not seeking to “torpedo” Moscow Decision but, on contrary, was doing its utmost to implement it. I had impression that it was this very fact that annoyed Kirsanov most.

At midnight last night I was aroused from bed by telephone call made at Kirsanov’s behest “convoking” me to his Legation for conversation at 1 a.m. I suggested delay until some time after daybreak but person at other end of wire seemed to have no other instructions than to repeat parrotlike in Russian “immediately at Russian Legation”. Fearing last-moment maneuver designed to permit Russians to state, in connection with announcement of new FF Govt without participation of Opposition, that their efforts to reach final compromise with assistance of US had failed because of uncooperative attitude my part, of same nature as Opposition charged with adopting toward Govt, I dressed and went to see Kirsanov.

When received my suspicion of such maneuver was strengthened as Kirsanov really had nothing to tell me but to say that his understanding of the afternoon of misconception of Govt offer to Opposition had been confirmed by inquiries made by him of Govt in meantime. He [Page 96] then pointed out that as it was only now that he really had the facts, it should be apparent to me that Russia had had nothing to do with shaping course of negotiations between Govt and Opposition. (I had of course never suggested any such thing but when I let ForMin Stainov know this morning of this he laughed heartily). As Kirsanov was in calm mood, I told him of Vyshinski’s conversation with Mr. Cohen in London. He made no observation. When he asked me whether I was now prepared to agree with him that Govt had made serious effort to implement Moscow Decision, I said that I was compelled to take a different view than he as earlier in the week I had been led to believe even by PriMin himself, that real concessions in form of Ministry of Justice had been offered to Opposition, and now had been told by same source that all was a misunderstanding. I said that under the circumstances I could only say that I had been under misapprehension earlier when concluding that Govt was making serious effort to implement agreement. Here again Kirsanov had nothing more to say except reiterate his view.

We parted with joke by him about how at last he had obtained his vengeance by imposing Russian visiting hours on me in exchange for the time when I had made him adhere to European hours.

Repeated to London as 118 and to Moscow 135, sent Dept as 282.

  1. Not printed; in it Barnes reported having called upon Petkov to convey the contents of the Secretary’s message. Petkov felt that the Secretary’s message was precisely in the spirit of what all three Great Powers should do in order to bring about a mutually satisfactory solution of the Bulgarian impasse. Petkov could see no possibility of solution for the present, however, in view of Prime Minister Georgiev’s withdrawal of his offer of the Ministry of Justice and of an Assistant Ministry of Interior to the Opposition (874.00/3–2946). Telegram 278, March 29, from Sofia, reported that Barnes had also called on Social Democratic Party leader Lulchev on the evening of March 28 and communicated to him the substance of the Secretary’s message. Lulchev insisted that Georgiev had in fact offered to the Opposition the positions of the Minister of Justice and an Assistant Minister of Interior. (874.00/3–2946)
  2. For the report of the Cohen–Vyshinsky conversation of February 16, see telegram 1968, February 16, from London, p. 75.