Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Southern European Affairs (Barbour)1


To instruct the Legation in Sofia as to the reply it should make to a note from the Bulgarian Foreign Office reporting the establishment of prohibited zones along the entirety of Bulgaria’s frontiers and barring foreign nationals, including members of the diplomatic and consular corps, from entry into such zones without previous authorization of the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior or Director General of the National Militia.2


The problem presented, while ostensibly merely establishing a permit procedure for the travel of foreign (including US and UK) diplomats [Page 45] within Bulgarian frontier zones, clearly raises the question as to the right of US and UK diplomatic officials to perform unsupervised travel anywhere within approximately 25 miles of Bulgaria’s frontiers, a development which cannot but seriously jeopardize the possibility of such officials effectively verifying Bulgarian compliance with various armament and fortification limitations imposed by the peace treaty.

During the CFM discussions concerning the peace treaties the Soviets consistently objected to the establishment of any form of international inspectorate to survey the implementation of the military or other clauses of the Balkan treaties. As a compromise it was finally agreed that the three heads of the diplomatic missions of the US, UK and USSR would be charged with the general function of interpreting, supervising and clarifying the treaties during the 18 months immediately following the treaties coming into effect and that the defeated enemies would accord the three heads of mission such assistance as they might require.

No admission by the USSR that the discharge of the functions of the heads of mission shall include the unrestricted right to travel throughout the ex-enemy countries can be found. However, it is believed that such right of unrestricted travel is inherent in the conception of the functions of the three heads of mission in this connection. Furthermore, the issue involved is obviously of considerable importance and its solution will have a direct bearing upon our ability through our diplomatic missions to survey Russian aggressive activities in those countries against Greece and Turkey.

In the circumstances, we feel that strong issue should be taken with the Bulgarians in regard to the movement of diplomatic personnel at the outset. At the same time, we do not feel that we need, or are in a position, to make equally vigorous protests against restrictions on private individuals.


It is recommended that the views of the British Foreign Office and of the Embassy in Moscow be obtained in the matter and that for that purpose the attached self-explanatory telegram quoting a proposed reply to the Bulgarian Government be dispatched.3


[Here follows the indications of concurrences by the officers, offices and divisions cited in footnote 1.]

  1. In accordance with Department procedures, this memorandum was circulated to other offices and divisions in the Department of State as a memorandum from the Director, Office of European Affairs to the Under Secretary of State. The memorandum was concurred in by the Division of Eastern European Affairs, the Office of the Legal Adviser, the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs, the Office of European Affairs, the Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Norman Armour, and the Counselor of the Department of State, Charles Bohlen.
  2. The note under reference here was contained in telegram 1019, November 6, from Sofia, not printed (874.111/11–647).
  3. The draft telegram attached to this memorandum was subsequently sent as telegram 501, November 14, to Sofia, infra.