740.0011 EW (Peace)/10–2547

The British Embassy to the Department of State


Ref. 501/ /47


implementation of peace treaties with bulgaria, roumania and hungary

His Majesty’s Embassy have been been asked by the Foreign Office to seek an exchange of views with the State Department on the subject of the tactics to be pursued for trying to secure the implementation of the Peace Treaties with Bulgaria, Roumania and Hungary. The Foreign Office consider that it is difficult to formulate any general principle except that the United States and British Governments should consult together before sending instructions on this subject to their representatives abroad. This is desirable in order to avoid any conflict in the actions of the two Governments. Such consultation should also be supplemented by consultation, as is already taking place satisfactorily, between the representatives of the two countries in the various Capitals concerned.

2. The Foreign Office consider that as circumstances in each country may well differ it may be desirable to pursue different tactics in each and there may even, in some instances, be advantage in United States and British ministers taking different action provided there is prior agreement. They would, therefore, favour a flexible approach in which the objectives of the two countries would naturally be agreed but their methods might differ; and in which the United States Government might take the lead in regard to some articles of the Treaty and the British Government in regard to others.

3. Against this general background, the Foreign Office wish to explain to the State Department their ideas on the following detailed proposals:

In Bulgaria the Foreign Office would leave it to Mr. Sterndale Bennett to decide after discussion with Mr. Heath1 on arrival what tactics to pursue subsequent to the note which the former addressed to the Bulgarian Government on October 22nd, relative to the note delivered by the United States Chargé d’Affaires to the Bulgarian Ministry [Page 37] for Foreign Affairs on October 7th.2 This was discussed by the Foreign Office with Mr. Heath recently.3
The Greek Frontier situation makes military information about Bulgaria (especially as regards troop movements so near the frontier) very important. In this connection it is perhaps worth mentioning that the Bulgarian press have recently given great prominence to rumours of attacks by Greek troops across the Bulgarian Frontier. The Foreign Office have told Mr. Heath that they would prefer to await joint recommendations by himself and Mr. Sterndale Bennett on the subject of military information about Bulgaria in the light of the situation as seen on the spot. The Foreign Office say that it is difficult for them to estimate how far it would be advisable to try to visit the Greek Frontier area before the end of the 90 days grace allowed to the Soviet Army and how far the two Legations may be able to get fairly reliable information of the situation in that area without visits. It might be desirable, the Foreign Office suggest, to try out the ground by sending one party to see how near the Frontier area they could get, with instructions to avoid an incident. The matter seems essentially to be one in which a detailed scheme, carefully worked out locally, is required for consideration in Washington and London.
In Roumania, the British Representative has suggested that it might be better to travel about the country without asking the Roumanian Government for military information, but that it would pay to write in about naval affairs. The Foreign Office are prepared to accept these views. If the State Department and the United States Representative in Bucharest agree, it is suggested that Mr. Holman might take the lead in writing to the Roumanian Government on the naval subject. The Foreign Office consider that the Service Attachés should travel everywhere in Roumania except in those parts of the Dobruja which are likely to raise special difficulties.
Both United States and British Representatives in Hungary are agreed that informal activity will pay best as regards implementation of the military clauses of the Treaty and that no written communication should be addressed to the Hungarian Government by either country. The Foreign Office assume that the State Department will agree that this is the right course. As regards travel by Service Attachés, they consider that these should go everywhere they can in the country.
It seems clear to the Foreign Office that both the United States and the United Kingdom Governments are in agreement on the un-wisdom of calling into being the Committee of the three Heads of Missions in any of the three countries before it is necessary to bring some specific dispute to the arbitration stage. The Foreign Office attach [Page 38] importance to the need to keep in mind the effects which action in one country may have in the other two. Their preliminary view, which has already been communicated to the United States Embassy in London in answer to an enquiry, is that recourse to the Committee of the three Heads of Missions and the arbitration machinery of the Treaties is most likely to give practical results in cases where there is hope of a specific award on a concrete issue such as oil interests in Roumania or Bulgarian reparations to Greece. It might be difficult even for the Bulgarian or Roumanian Governments to refuse to pay specific sums of money if awarded against them in this way. Arbitration machinery might also be of some use in such questions as the right to inspect fortifications or send observers to trials, which depend on a disputable interpretation of Article 37 (3) of the Roumanian Treaty and the corresponding Articles of the other Treaties. The Foreign Office think it might stultify this machinery from the outset if an attempt were made to use it first to obtain a conviction of one of the three governments for a breach of the human rights clause, which it would be difficult, if not impossible, to force the government in question to rectify, seeing that totalitarian rule is by its very nature founded on the denial of these rights. But circumstances, of course, might arise in which it was felt necessary to take a specific and particularly monstrous case to the Committee of Three and arbitration machinery in spite of the risks referred to in the preceding sentence.

An attempt has been made in the above paragraphs to indicate the general views of the Foreign Office. His Majesty’s Embassy will be glad to learn how far the State Department agree and what modifications and additions they would suggest. Once these are obtained, the Foreign Office would like to put the agreed considerations to the United States and British Representatives in the three countries and ask each pair of them to work out together within this framework details of co-ordinated (but not necessarily identical) action in the light of the local situation. This should then be referred back to the State Department and the Foreign Office. The Foreign Office see advantage, as has been mentioned above, in a flexible approach which will allow considerable local discretion.

  1. Donald R. Heath, Minister-designate to Bulgaria, stopped in London for consultation with British officials before proceeding to his post in Sofia.
  2. For the text of the American Legation note under reference, see telegram 904, October 9, from Sofia, p. 33.
  3. Telegram 5579, October 17, from London, not printed, reported on Minister-designate Heath’s discussions with British Foreign Office officials. The British Foreign Office was disinclined immediately to follow the American lead in formally requesting the Bulgarian Government to furnish complete information about its armed forces. The British Foreign Office position was to be firm in insisting on Bulgarian compliance with the Peace Treaty but to avoid sending too many notes and provoking unsatisfactory and interminable correspondence (740.0011 EW(Peace)/10–1747).