740.0011 EW(Peace)/1–948: Telegram

The Minister in Bulgaria (Heath) to the Secretary of State


28. Our policy and strategy for implementation military clauses peace treaty have been based upon assumption we to proceed unilaterally trying work in complete unity with British colleagues but avoiding any suggestion action tripartite basis in view procedural pitfalls and frustrations which may well result from establishment formal tripartite council. This policy derived from guidance contained Deptel 381 September 171 and SWNCC 244–7, September 10.2

As it our belief effective implementation military clauses treaty should no longer be delayed and as it obvious aim Bulgarian Government gain time by seeking invoke questions procedure and approach in answer simple requests for information re armed forces Bulgaria (Legtel 1167, December 10)3 enforcement Article 12 believed logical next step in program vigorous enforcement since US clearly has right inspect Greco-Bulgarian frontier for Bulgarian fulfillment their obligations. Furthermore, serious guerrilla activity aided and abetted by Soviet satellites along Greco-Bulgarian frontier4 would seem make inspection near future doubly advisable.

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To assure unanimity action British colleagues were approached January 8 and conference held this Legation before submission proposal to Department. CIOS developed fact British Minister has recommended his government establishment treaty machinery through early formation Council Ministers to consist British, Soviet and US Ministers to act in concert as set forth Paragraph 1 Article 35. As this would seem be at variance with Department’s thinking on subject urgently request guidance on this basic concept.

On principle it would be wise avoid procedural pitfalls we proposed to British early carrying out inspection Greco-Bulgarian frontier for compliance Article 12. We could carry out such inspections after simple notification Bulgarian Government of intention do so, or alternatively could invite British and Soviet participation inspection not, however, to be contingent their participation.

During course conversation developed there difference opinion as to desirability inviting Soviet participation since strong possibility exists Soviets would use customary stalling tactics or that Bulgaria would formally refuse permission US inspect in absence three power agreement on participation. On other hand it may be argued the failure invite Soviet (and British) participation might be construed as attempt evade Paragraph 1 Article 35.

If British concept that Council of Ministers should be established near future is accepted presumably one council’s first tasks would be proposed inspection Greco-Bulgarian border. Assuming customary Soviet obstructionism we and British would still take position we retained individual freedom action although it would be slightly more difficult maintain that position once council established.

In any event before proceeding further it seems essential agreement be reached between London and Washington on general question whether we are at this time to invoke machinery Paragraph 1 Article 35 or whether we should seek retain freedom action under Paragraph 3 Article 35 long as possible. Whatever decision may be reached on this principle obviates in no way urgency carrying out at once inspections Greco-Bulgarian frontier to be followed on or after March 15 by inspections Bulgarian Military establishments accordance terms treaty.

To recapitulate we feel there four alternatives:

  • (a) Inform British and Soviet Legations our intention survey (inspect) Greco-Bulgarian frontier for compliance Article 12 and invite participation therein; however, conduct inspection not to be contingent upon acceptance by either.
  • (b) Upon receipt affirmative or negative replies or after lapse one week: (1) note would be despatched Bulgarian Government to include [Page 284] substantially information to effect; (2) inspection will be made Greco-Bulgarian frontier (areas to be delineated) for Bulgarian fulfillment Article 12; (3) inspection party will depart say two days after delivery note; (4) composition inspection party will be set forth and Bulgarian Government invited send liaison officer if they so desire.
  • This may possibly give Bulgarian Government opportunity attempt block inspection by invoking Paragraph 1 Article 35. In that event believe such premise should be refused and our rights asserted through immediate despatch inspection party frontier zone.
Follow procedure outlined in (1) above except other Legations would not be invited participate but simply furnished copy note intention to Bulgarian Government.
Either British Legation or ourselves notify Bulgarian Government of intention inspect frontier zone and proceed area as clear right. In absence written authority and advance arrangements from and by Bulgarian Government very probable visiting party would be refused entry frontier zone.
Endeavor setup at once Committee of Ministers under Article 35 and propose visit inspection under Article 12 as first task treaty implementation.5 If Soviets object or procrastinate we should declare we consider it our right and duty proceed independent inspection and if obstructed in this by Bulgarian Government Soviets would follow procedure for settlement disputes established Article 36.

If Department agrees time propitious inspect Greco-Bulgarian frontier I incline favor continue policy unilateral action and conduct actual inspection through method set forth on above. This based on following:

failure invite Soviet (and British) participation may well be construed and denounced as attempt unilaterally enforce treaty in contravention Paragraph 1 Article 35;
Soviet refusal participate or any delaying tactics employed would strengthen our case; (c) If Bulgarian Government refuses permission US inspect and we actually assert our right do so by despatch inspection party, stoppage at point entry frontier zone as will probably occur, would be ample reason invoke Article 36 and if properly publicized have dramatic effect public opinion.

Before embarking on projected inspection, it of utmost importance our Government’s London and Washington have clear agreement as to subsequent action be taken in event obstruction delay or actual refusal [Page 285] entry frontier zone and that appropriate instructions be forthcoming.6

British Minister telegraphing in same sense to Foreign Office except no preference as between alternatives.

Sent Department 28, repeated Athens 2, Bucharest 5, Budapest 3, London 5, Moscow 1.

  1. Same as telegram 990, September 17, 1947, to Budapest, Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. iv, p. 29.
  2. Ibid., p. 21.
  3. In a note of October 7, 1947, the Legation in Sofia attempted to obtain information from the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry concerning the execution of the military clauses of the Bulgarian Peace Treaty; for the text of the note, see telegram 904, October 9, 1947, from Sofia, ibid., p. 33. On December 9, 1947, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry stated that, in accordance with Article 35 of the Bulgarian Peace Treaty, which called for concerted action by the heads of the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet missions in Sofia, it would reply with United States request for treaty information only after a similar request had been received from the Soviet Embassy; for the text of the Bulgarian note, see telegram 1167, December 10, 1947, from Sofia, ibid., p. 48. Acting on instructions from the Department, the Legation in Sofia sent a note to the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry on January 27, 1948, not printed, rejecting as unjustified the Bulgarian postponement of a response concerning the execution of the military clauses of the peace treaty pending the receipt of a concurring request from the Soviet Embassy. The Legation also communicated to the Soviet Embassy in Sofia on the same day to that effect. In the absence of a reply from the Soviet Embassy, the Legation in Sofia on March 5, 1948 sent a note to the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, not printed, requesting before March 15, 1948 assurances concerning the size and maintenance of the Bulgarian armed forces. On March 15, 1948, a communication, not printed, was received from the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry stating that the Bulgarian Government had already officially informed the Secretary General of the United Nations stating that the strength of the Bulgarian armed forces was in conformity with the appropriate articles of the Bulgarian Peace Treaty. Texts of unprinted notes referred to here together with related correspondence are included in file 740.0011 EW (Peace).
  4. For documentation regarding the concern of the United States over the civil war in Greece and the violation of the Greek-Bulgarian border by Bulgarian-supported guerrilla forces, see pp. 222 ff.
  5. In telegram 35, January 16, 1948, to Sofia, not printed, the Department replied in part as follows:

    “We do not favor at this time setting up Committee of Ministers except when necessary on ad hoc basis particularly since such action might create precedent for Sovs in Italy. We do not feel such ad hoc consultation military clauses yet opportune.” (740.0011 EW (Peace)/1–948)

  6. In late January 1948, the Department decided to authorize the Legation in Sofia to carry out an inspection of the Greek-Bulgarian frontier in pursuance of article 12 of the Bulgarian Peace Treaty. Notes were addressed to the British and Soviet missions in Sofia on February 3, 1948 informing them of the desire of the United States to survey the frontier and inviting their participation. The Department felt that if the Bulgarians blocked the inspection, which was fully expected, it would demonstrate to the United Nations and to world opinion the Bulgarian Government’s intransigence and designs toward Greece. The British agreed to the proposal, but on February 18, 1948, the Soviet Embassy in Sofia notified the Legation that it would not designate a representative to participate in the frontier inspection since there was no evidence that Bulgaria had violated treaty provisions. In a note to the Soviet Embassy on February 27, the Legation in Sofia refuted the Soviet arguments and invited the Soviet authorities to reconsider the invitation to participate in the frontier inspection. The British Legation in Sofia submitted a similar note to the Soviet Embassy. In the absence of any further reply from the Soviet Embassy on the matter, the Legation in Sofia notified the Bulgarian Government on March 17 of the American intention to inspect the frontier. On March 26 the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry replied to the Legation note in an extremely negative manner, adding a veiled threat that it could not assume any responsibility for the consequence of acts which did not conform to the peace treaty and which infringed the sovereignty of Bulgaria. No unilateral inspection of the frontier by American authorities was attempted. Documents on the efforts to carry out inspection of the Greek-Bulgarian frontier under the terms of the peace treaty are included in file 740.0011 EW (Peace).