871.918/5–347: Telegram

The Acting Representative in Bulgaria ( Horner )1 to the Secretary of State

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291. I called upon Foreign Minister Georgiev this morning to inquire as to reasons suspension opposition Social Democratic newspaper Svoboden Narod (mytel 284, April 302) and obviously govt inspired decision printers not handle opposition Agrarian Narodno Zemedelsko Znams (British political representative made similar request yesterday).

Georgiev expatiated at length on subject critical food situation expected confront country this year, third in succession of drought. He said owing this expected food crisis Cabinet took very serious view any attempts on part farmers withhold cereals. He claimed Svoboden Narod had been guilty of counseling farmers do just this, and in response my inquiry stated newspaper’s editorial April 27 direct cause its suspension.

Key portion editorial reads in translation as follows:

“Therefore people from now on should know what position is respecting wheat and other foodstuffs in order draw its conclusions and if necessary impose on itself still greater economies and limitations. In this regard, cry for calling in part reserves from [apparent garble] producers does not show farsightedness. To avoid famine, and [Page 154] not only on paper, there should be both public and private laying in of stocks to reasonable extent.”

With respect Narodno Zemedelsko Zname, Foreign Minister claimed he had no official (he laid stress on word) information re reasons its failure appear since April 29. He stated he had asked Information Minister Dimo Kazasov provide him with full details and said he would inform me in premises.

Asked Georgiev whether fact Narodno Zemedelsko Zname had been only newspaper carry reasonable facsimile Secretary’s radio report on CFM might have been reason its non-appearance. In that connection, I referred to extremely biased and militated [mutilated] portion Secretary’s speech which appeared in all FF papers of April 30 (mytel 283, April 303). Georgiev denied address had anything do with nonappearance paper. I went on to refer to what I considered very significant omissions in account of address printed in govt press pointing out that in most cases these omitted sections had reference to USSR intransigence CFM and speech appeared locally gave false impression. Foreign Minister asserted Bulgarian press merely exercised editorial discretion in condensing speech; said some news agencies (he mentioned Reuters) had emphasized only, what he termed, juicier portions while Bulgarian editors, motivated by desire for big power unity, without which permanent peace was impossible, had expressed their tastes differently. To my remark that tastes Bulgarian editors seemed strangely unanimous, Georgiev merely smiled.

Sterndale Bennett and I both feel it would be unwise allow this latest action Bulgarian Govt in violating freedom press go unchallenged, especially since Sobranje is now in recess and there thus no effective voice of opposition. We plan see Soviet Minister Monday to inform him our attitude matter and prevent later charges of bypassing Soviets. Meanwhile I believe I should be authorized deliver note Foreign Minister expressing US concern over situation which note to be really effective should be given radio and press publicity. Sterndale Bennett is requesting same instructions from Foreign Office and we would hope deliver notes same day although not making them identical. In our own case believe action Bulgarian Govt in perverting sense Secretary’s radio address should be made subject of separate note.

Sent Dept 291, repeated London 36.

  1. Representative Barnes departed from Sofia on April 22, and John E. Horner assumed charge of the Mission in Bulgaria.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed; it reported that the Secretary of State’s radio address of April 28, reporting on the Moscow session of the Council of Foreign Ministers March 10–April 24, had appeared in the Bulgarian government press in a badly mutilated form (740.00119 Council/4–3047).