811.79640/5–646: Telegram

The Chargé in Yugoslavia (Shantz) to the Secretary of State


462. Re Department’s 998, April 15, 4 p.m. to Bern, repeated to Belgrade as 231.52

Upon Deak’s arrival inquired of General Velebit as to status of pending civil aviation matters. He stated question still undecided and [Page 890] suggested conference with Lazarovic, head of Consular Section and in charge of civil aviation questions in Foreign Office.

In conference with latter Deak suggested unless Yugoslavia wants to miss opportunity becoming important Balkan air traffic center, Yugoslav Government should as interim measure (1) allow without delay entry ATC and AACS personnel to operate existing facilities, install necessary additional equipment and train local nationals; (2) grant at least simple transit right over Yugoslavia for certified US air carrier, preferably with at least 10 traffic stops at Zemun airport. Otherwise CAB may be forced to reroute PAA by-passing Yugoslavia. Lazarovic promised to report immediately to General Velebit and to arrange conference for May 6 with him and General Jovanovic,53 recently put in charge of civil aviation matters. Today we were informed General Velebit discussed Deak’s suggestions with Air Force but everybody was busy with May 9 liberation festival and projected conference unlikely to take place for several days, however matter would be pressed by Foreign Office.

Survey of situation leads Deak to following conclusions in which I concur:

Yugoslavia apparently not willing to discuss civil aviation matters, due either to Soviet influence or their own inability to make up their minds or both. Our April 1945 proposal for bilateral agreement remains unanswered despite Embassy’s repeated urgings and inquiries orally and in writing. British request for civil air agreement negotiations failed to bring results, like proposals from Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands evoked only verbal promise that whole question would be decided in near future.
There is no way to press or force issue there being no known responsible person or agency with whom air agreement, non traffic stops or even simple transit right can be discussed. Authoritative policy making is not as generally assumed in Tito or Government, but in Yugoslav version of Political Bureau composition which is secret. Foreign Office is simple letterbox and Foreign Minister now in Paris lacks real authority. Upon my inquiry May 4 Velebit stated that no civil aviation authority has yet been established.
Assuming Yugoslavs could be induced to discuss bilateral agreement, Department’s hesitation to grant reciprocal rights is fully justified. Government being under Soviet domination, nationalized Yugoslav airline as matter of course serves Soviet interests. Technically we can protect ourselves by article VI of proposed draft reserving right withhold operation rights from company where ownership and substantial control not in nationals of other contracting party. However this protection illusory for Yugoslavs would doubtless specify letter of condition while cheerfully violating spirit. (Their ability to do so amply illustrated by successful concealment of [Page 891] use of UNRRA gifts such as trucks, lubricants, even food for purposes other than relief and rehabilitation.)
In view of above it seems unlikely that effort to secure air rights in Yugoslavia could succeed for time being. To press for reciprocal rights under original bilateral agreement draft seems inadvisable for two reasons, first, in view of Department’s apprehension over possible misuse of such rights by foreign hostile interest; second, because Embassy note No. 15, January 12 (pursuant to Department’s 18, January 854) requesting reply by January 17 was left unanswered by Yugoslav Foreign Office (see Embassy’s 68, January 19.54) New start by requesting interim nontraffic landing or simple transit rights possible; but written proposal would fare as previous ones.
Landing or even transit rights in Yugoslavia would be of no practical value without adequate navigational aids and facilities and trained personnel to operate them. No reply to Embassy’s note of April 25. (Re Department’s 244, April 19, 6 p.m.). Yugoslavs having forced withdrawal of ATC and AACS personnel, ATC now operates into Belgrade using British navigational aids and only with wholehearted cooperation of RAF unit. It is doubtful such operation can be continued for long and that British could remain if ATC forced to close down completely. If both ATC and British forced out, no facilities left to safely separate US aircraft, military or civil, into or through Yugoslavia. Yugloslavia claim they can provide services for safe operations is ridiculous.
Unless Department deems it appropriate to bring serious pressure on Yugoslav Government to adopt more cooperative attitude, conclusion is inescapable that hope for making any satisfactory arrangement for PAA to operate certified route through Balkans be abandoned for time being.
To render operations from Vienna onward possible, it may therefore be unavoidable to temporarily reroute PAA via Rome–Athens to Turkey. In such case wide publicity of fact that rerouting made necessary by Yugoslav’s uncooperative attitude may be effective. Department and CAB may wish further to consider formally striking out, with appropriate publicity, Belgrade as intermediary stop on national interest route, including therein only upon clamor of Yugoslav delegation at Chicago Conference.55

Sent Department as 462 repeated Moscow for Kennan as 15.


[On May 7, 1946, the Chargé in Belgrade delivered to the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry a note containing a renewed request that the [Page 892] Yugoslav Government make arrangements for individuals and groups in the United States who wished to testify on behalf of General Mihailović in his forthcoming trial. Instructions regarding delivery of the note were contained in telegram 263, May 1, to Belgrade (860H.00/5–146). For text of note, see Department of State Bulletin, May 26, 1946, page 909.]

  1. Not printed; it directed Francis Deak, Civil Air Attaché in the Legation in Bern, to proceed to Belgrade at an early date to endeavor to arrange through the Embassy for at least transit rights over Yugoslav territory for the Pan American Airways route connecting Vienna with Istanbul. Mr. Deak was also to investigate the possibility of negotiating a bilateral air agreement with Yugoslavia. (811.79640/4–1546) Mr. Deak, though resident in Bern, was also assigned as Civil Air Attaché to Belgrade, Berlin, Bucharest, Budapest, Praha, Sofia, and Vienna.
  2. Col. Gen. Arso Jovanović, Chief of the General Staff of the Yugoslav National Liberation Army.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Reference presumably to the First Interim Assembly of the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization which met in Montreal, Canada, May 21–June 7, 1946. The Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization carried on the functions of the International Civil Aviation Organization pending the formal establishment of the latter body as provided under Convention on International Civil Aviation concluded at Chicago on December 7, 1944. For documentation concerning the Chicago Conference, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. ii, pp. 355 ff.