711.74/5–1047: Telegram

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


314. I called on Prime Minister Dimitrov this morning and our hour and half conversation covered following points in that order:

I asked whether it was intention of Bulgarian Govt to create by effective date of peace treaty agency to provide liaison with Allied powers in connection with implementation of economic clauses. Prime Minister said such agency was definitely planned. He then brought up the question of Bulgarian frozen deposits in US which he said would exceed amount of restitution. The balance, he declared, Bulgaria wished to use to purchase urgently needed machinery and other materials from US. I said in reply that most effective action Bulgaria could take to secure unfreezing of these deposits would be to rapidly process claims of American nationals and that in that connection it would be desirable for Bulgarian agency handling claims to be ready to operate immediately upon entry into operation of treaty. Prime Minister said he realized necessity for quick settlement of economic clauses but that Bulgaria did not intend to pay any and all claims presented. I answered that undoubtedly there would be differences of opinion about validity of some claims and that in that connection conciliation commissions were provided for in Article 31 of Annex 4 of treaty.
Prime Minister then went on to refer at some length to Bulgarian sensitivity regarding her sovereignty and asserted three Ministers contemplated in Article 35 would not be regarded as being successor to ACC or have right to dictate to Bulgarian Govt [apparent [Page 157] omission] basis statement that Bulgaria would deal with each nation separately, I pointed to fact that Article 35 clearly provided that heads of Missions of Big Three would act in concert. I further said that we had no desire whatever to dictate to Bulgaria our main interest being to secure fulfillment of peace treaty and to establish friendly relations between our two countries.
This led Prime Minister to ask why we were so interested in existence of Opposition newspapers in Bulgaria (he apparently anticipated my asking about nonappearance Svoboden Narod and Narodno Zemedelsko Zname). He claimed that neither American strategic nor economic interests were involved in continued appearance of these papers. I replied that he was perhaps overly cynical regarding mainsprings of our foreign policy that we were not concerned simply with pursuit of material objectives but had real desire to see freedom of thought permitted to exist throughout world. Dimitrov declared that whether or not these papers should be allowed to appear as an internal matter to which I replied that in Article 2 of treaty Bulgaria clearly undertakes to allow fundamental freedoms including freedom of press.
I then took occasion to mention unfriendly treatment given US in govt press recently.
I referred to mutilation of Secretary Marshall’s report on CFM and contrasted it with extensive coverage given Izvestia1 criticism thereof. I also spoke of articles such as one which appeared in Trud May 8 wherein Opposition leaders were said to receive “pecuniary inspiration” abroad. Regarding Secretary’s statement Prime Minister took view similar to that of Foreign Minister (Mistel 283, April 302) saying that editors had right to condense such speeches and that they had omitted no important sections. I contested this and said it seemed to me that FF press was deliberately following Moscow line on Conference. With regard to Trad article, I told Prime Minister its implication was that we were subsidizing Opposition leaders. He said he knew that foreign Missions do not pay Opposition but that certain quarters abroad do. I pressed him to give instances of subsidy from abroad but he took refuge in reply that such transactions were never put down on paper and consequently no legal proof was possible.
Continuing general subject of Bulgarian-American relations, I told Prime Minister I thought actions of local militia was considerable irritant. I developed line argument suggest in Deptel 165, May 2, [Page 158] 8 p. m.,3 referring to repeated assurances given commission [Mission?] that no employees would be arrested without prior consultation with chief of Mission. Dimitrov said he had given strict orders to militia head to make no arrests without written notification by Foreign Office to Mission concerned. He expressed surprise when I mentioned arrest my servant three weeks ago and said he would give instructions immediately for matter to be looked into.4 I had impression he was sincere in his statement that he had ordered militia to be more circumspect in dealing with foreign Missions.
I expressed opinion to Prime Minister that early fixing of reasonable diplomatic rate of exchange would be highly desirable. I said I did not consider 450 rate to be reasonable (Mistel 270, April 26, 5 p. m.5). He said that this was only an interim rate and that Bulgarian Govt wished very much to establish definitive rate and was giving attention to matter.
In conclusion Prime Minister treated me to lengthy peroration on subject of opposition. He said [apparent omission] in US and UK are not found in Bulgaria and that Bulgarian Opposition is “Balkan Opposition” motivated by sordid considerations. He expressed view that foreign representatives were unduly swayed by contacts with Opposition and suggested that I travel around country freely see for myself what was being accomplished by FF and talk with villagers and workers. I told him I fully intended to do this and hoped that as a result I would gain greater insight into what was happening.

He said that Bulgaria had nothing to hide, that she had twice been dragged into war against US and UK but that he could assure me that this would not happen again. Bulgaria would not be used as a pawn by any country against any other but would pursue an independent policy aimed at peaceful reconstruction.

  1. The reference here is to an article, highly critical of the Secretary of State’s radio address of April 28, which had appeared in the Soviet newspaper Izvestia and which had been printed in a number of Bulgarian newspapers.
  2. Not printed, but see footnote 3, p. 154.
  3. In telegram 280, April 30, from Sofia, not printed, Acting Representative Horner reported that his servant had been arrested by the Bulgarian militia on April 27 in a general roundup of former servants of the Bulgarian royal family. Horner had sent a note to the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry on April 29 protesting the arrest and continued detention of his servant (123 Horner, John Evarts). Telegram 165, May 2, to Sofia, not printed, gave guidance for further representations on this matter and concluded:

    Dept … believes that, if for no other consideration than that of US prestige, you should press matter vigorously. Last summer’s experiences appear to indicate (1) that FonOff can be goaded into sufficient activity to settle instant case and (2) that in absence satisfactory settlement recurrences are not unlikely.” (123 Horner, John Evarts)

  4. Telegram 331, May 17, from Sofia, not printed, reported that assurances had been received from Prime Minister Dimitrov that Horner’s servant, who had been accused of criminal acts, would be given a fair trial (123 Horner, John Evarts).
  5. Not printed.