874.01/1–2047: Telegram

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

top secret

49. As implied in subparagraph No. 4, mytel 6, January 4, I am in accord with Dept’s preference procedure No. 2 as set forth second [Page 141] paragraph Deptel unnumbered January 18, 2 p. m.1 concerning recognition Bulgarian Govt.

Also agree with Dept’s belief that for political and practical reasons diplomatic relations should be reestablished near future with Bulgarian Government.

Bearing in mind our observations to date on development Bulgarian domestic political affairs during armistice period, believe views expressed first paragraph Deptel just referred to should be communicated Bulgarian Govt sometime between now and ratification or upon ratification with added statement, which might subsequently be made public, that presence appreciable representation numerous democratic elements in GNA gives rise to real hope that evolution of Republic’s political life will be in accordance with principles agreed upon at Yalta and Potsdam;2 therefore that US Govt prepared to exchange Ministers Plenipotentiary and Envoys Extraordinary in conviction that regularization of relations between two countries and immediate implementation of peace treaty to replace armistice conditions will facilitate this development and consequently improve political, social and economic life Bulgarian people.3

Some such statement rather than one emphasizing what elections left to be desired would motivate continuing efforts US toward liberalization Bulgarian political regime, would constitute caveat upon which we could later fall back should regime worsen and political situation deteriorate rapidly to disadvantage of human and political freedoms, following deposit of instrument of ratification.

I believe statement stressing what elections left to be desired would be interpreted, and hence used against us throughout Balkans as sanctimonious, hypocritical and meaningless statement devised to bail us out of situation we no longer found to our liking. I suggest the other formula as one calculated to emphasize fact that we are by no means complacent about future developments and that if these developments are not along lines of Yalta and Potsdam, then we will [Page 142] reexamine situation to advantage insofar as lies within our power, of truly democratic elements in country.

I believe formula suggested would also be tactically advantageous. It would give us time to move slowly and cautiously in matter of accrediting Minister to Bulgarian Government. As in case of Rumanian recognition, Bulgaria would be afforded opportunity of taking first step toward accrediting regular representative in Washington. If subsequently because of delay in this matter by Bulgarian Govt for some unforeseen reason initiative could always be seized by US to accredit representative to Bulgarian Govt.

As for myself, and Dept’s suggestion that as initial step I should be accredited as Chargé d’Affaires, I feel both for official and personal reasons, this would be great mistake. Perhaps erroneously but nevertheless fully in spirit of Dept’s original instructions to me November 3, 1944,4 I have throughout armistice period arrogated to myself position far in excess of that of normal diplomatic representatives of full ministerial rank. My British and Russian colleagues have done same. As representatives of major victors this seemed only right.

I believe my British colleague and I have been justified by results. Had we not done so whatever success has been attained by US and UK efforts to protect and foster human and political rights would not, in my opinion, have been accomplished. For my status suddenly to become that of Chargé d’Affaires, at very moment we recognize present Communist Govt, would certainly prove confusing and deceptive to democratic elements who quite normally and naturally will be disturbed by our final acceptance govt over which former Secretary General of Russian Comintern5 presides. At same time Communist Govt would doubtless find considerable cause for pleasure in my status as Chargé d’Affaires and point to that status as proof that during armistice period I had arrogated to myself status and attitude toward Bulgarian Govt never sanctioned by my government.

Furthermore it seems to me that had Department given full consideration problem of fulfillment treaty as provided Articles 33 and 346 it would not be necessary for me to make immediate preceding [Page 143] observations. British will soon have Bennett here as full Minister,7 and whether he is or is not Ambassador, ambiguity in Russian terminology for its Chiefs of Mission permits local ascription of ambassadorial rank to Kirsanov.8 Viewed in light obligation imposed by Articles 33 and 34, position US Chargé d’Affaires would be anything but enviable and effective in these circumstances.

I have already suggested to Department thru personal channels that immediately after being afforded opportunity to confer with our delegate on Security Council Balkan Investigating Commission,9 I be called to Dept for consultation. I have also written personally to Secretary under date December 2810 (letter left here by courier January 2) expressing my views on our future representation Bulgaria and on my own future. I feel strongly again both for official and personal reasons that my mission here should be terminated in such way as to emphasize and consolidate what we and British have done in Bulgaria during past two years to bolster human and political freedoms. If this cannot be done by assignment that would enhance or at least leave record intact on basis of whatever merit it has, then it would be better for all concerned, that is for American interests in Bulgaria and in Balkans in general and for truly democratic elements of Bulgarian population and for myself personally, if I were to receive no further foreign assignment.

I am sure Dept will realize that both from official and personal point of view, I should not be left long in ignorance as to its views on subjects discussed this telegram. Dept’s silence on these matters for past month and half since conclusion meetings CFM in New York11 has been disconcerting and trying.

  1. The reference here is to telegram 20, January 18, to Sofia, supra.
  2. The references here are to the Declaration on Liberated Europe, Part V of the Report on the Crimea Conference, February 11, 1945, Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, p. 971 and Part X of the Report on the Tripartite Conference of Berlin, August 2, 1945, Foreign Relations, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, vol. ii, p. 1509.
  3. In telegram 51, January 21, from Sofia, not printed, Representative Barnes recounted a conversation of the previous evening with Nikola Petkov. Petkov expressed the view that a statement along the lines described in this paragraph of Barnes’ telegram was the best means to minimize the deceptive effects on the Bulgarian voters of the recognition of the current Bulgarian regime. Petkov also thought it was important that the United States and the United Kingdom exact from the Bulgarian regime an undertaking to have all Sofia newspapers publish any official American and British statements accompanying recognition (874.01/1–2147).
  4. Not printed. For similar instructions to the United States Representative in Hungary, March 19, 1945, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iv, p. 807.
  5. The reference here is to Bulgarian Prime Minister Georgi Dimitrov.
  6. In the Treaty of Peace with Bulgaria, signed in Paris on February 10, the articles under reference here were included as articles 35 and 36 respectively. These articles defined the manner in which the Heads of the Diplomatic Missions of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union would represent the Allied and Associated Powers in dealing with the Bulgarian Government in matters concerning the execution and implementation of the Treaty. For Representative Barnes’ more detailed comments on these articles, see telegram 23, January 10, from Sofia, p. 1.
  7. John Cecil Sterndale Bennett, the British Political Representative-designate to Bulgaria, arrived at his post in mid-March. Sterndale Bennett became British Minister to Bulgaria on September 18.
  8. Stepan Pavlovich Kirsanov, Soviet Minister in Bulgaria.
  9. On December 19, 1946, the United Nations Security Council established a Commission of Investigation to ascertain the facts relating to the alleged border violations along the frontier between Greece on the one hand and Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia on the other. For documentation regarding the role of the United States in this Commission and the concern of the United States over the violations of the Greek frontier, see volume v .
  10. Not printed. In it, Representative Barnes explained why he felt it would be unwise for him to be appointed Minister to Bulgaria. In particular, Barnes feared either that the Bulgarian Government would refuse an agrément in his case, or, if the agrément were accorded, there would be a continuation of the mutual distrusts and asperities of the armistice period (123 Barnes, Maynard B.).
  11. The Third Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers had been held in New York, November 4–December 12, 1946.