Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs (Wallner)
|Dr. Mihai Ralea, EE and MP of Rumania to the US
|Mr. Wallner, WE (interpreter)
The Secretary today received Mr. Ralea at the latter’s request.
The Rumanian Minister explained that he came to make a formal call on the Secretary since the latter had been absent when he arrived in Washington.2 After the usual polite exchanges, Mr. Ralea said that he regarded his principal task to be that of bringing together the Rumanian and American peoples. He added that he was not a professional diplomat but a political man and [as] the Vice President of Plowmen’s Front Party he had considerable political influence in his own country which he intended to use to the full for the rapproachement of the two peoples.
The Secretary remarked that he wished to repeat what Mr. Acheson no doubt had already told the Minister, namely that this Government had been extremely disappointed at the manner in which the Rumanian elections had been conducted;3 that he had been at Yalta and at Moscow and that the elections were conducted in violation of the letter and spirit of the agreements reached at those places.4[Page 472]
Mr. Ralea replied that he regretted the Secretary’s feeling which he was sure grew out of an unrealistic and ideal conception of elections. Rumania was the beginning of the Orient, and elections there were not conducted as they were in England and the United States. They were traditionally held in an atmosphere of political passion and corruption. He recalled that when he had been an Opposition candidate some years ago he had been imprisoned by the Government during his campaign in order to insure the election of his opponent. He stated that corruption in the present election was only normal, affecting some 200,000 ballots or about five percent. The results would have been almost the same if no corruption had existed.
The Secretary declared that this Government had no intention of dictating to the Rumanian or any other people how they should conduct their elections, or of intervening in favor of one party or the other; nonetheless the American Government had made a commitment that the Government of Rumania should reflect the free expression of the will of the whole Rumanian people and their many political tendencies and that this commitment, to his regret, had not been fulfilled.
The Minister said that it was the wish of all the parties of his Government, including the Communist fraction representing only 17 percent, to enter into non-exclusive international intercourse with all countries of the world and particularly with the United States. Rumania needed the United States, and the Rumanian political parties and people wanted better and fuller relations with them. He stressed particularly the question of economic relations, referring to the two years’ drought and his country’s desperate need for grain.
The Secretary said that this was a question for the Minister to take up with Mr. Clayton5 and the economic side of the Department, where it would receive thorough and fair consideration. He went on to explain some of the limiting factors in the grain situation, particularly inland transportation, and emphasized that these factors had prevented us from fulfilling our commitments toward both our former allies, England and France, and to the occupation zones of Germany and Japan for which we were responsible.
Mr. Ralea declared that he did not wish to give particular stress to the grain matter at this time: he was using it as an example of the way in which the United States could make its presence felt in Rumania. Economic collaboration was the beginning of political influence. The Rumanians were a Latin Island in a Slavic lake, a people of peasants attached to private ownership of the soil. They felt the need of the West because of their racial affinity with it and the affinity [Page 473] of their economic ideas. If the United States snubbed them, scolded them and ostracized them, they would be forced to fall within what he described as an “exclusive influence”.
“Do not, Mr. Secretary,” said the Minister, “leave us behind the iron curtain!”
After a further exchange of civilities, Mr. Ralea took his leave.
- Minister Ralea presented his letters of credence to President Truman on October 1, 1946.↩
- National elections were held in Rumania on November 19, 1946. For an analysis of the elections, see telegram 1101, November 23, 1946, from Bucharest, Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. vi, p. 655. For the statement issued to the press by Under Secretary of State Dean Acheson on November 26, 1946, expressing the dissatisfaction of the United States Government with the unfree nature of the elections, see Department of State Bulletin, December 8, 1946, p. 1057. Under Secretary Acheson did not discuss the election results with Minister Ralea.↩
- The references here are to the Declaration on Liberated Europe, included as item V of the Report of the Crimea Conference, February 11, 1945, Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, pp. 971–973, and item V of the Communiqué of the Moscow Conference of the Three Foreign Ministers, December 27, 1945, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, pp. 821–822.↩
- William Clayton, Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs.↩