840.811/5–1448: Telegram

The Minister in Romania (Schoenfeld) to the Secretary of State


538. Inquiry among my British, French and Swiss (representing Greece) colleagues regarding Danube shipping (regarding Department’s airgram A–121, April 28) reveals continued lack freedom Rumanian sector Danube for other than Soviet and Soviet Rumanian operated vessels. Neither British, French, Greek nor independent Rumanian companies have found it possible to operate, but apparently no direct refusal of permit has been given. Instead, all sorts of administrative difficulties have been arranged, including refusal of fuel, repair, port and loading facilities, troubles with labor unions, intimidation, and all the other general economic and financial difficulties experienced by all forms of business, except Soviet, in Rumania.

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British recently reported fully to Foreign Office repeated Washington regarding their continued unsuccessful efforts move British flag vessels on Danube. In order make a test case they recently applied in name of British company to Rumanian authorities for permission to move self-propelled barge Scotland with cargo from Braila to US Zone Germany. No reply yet received and none expected until after Danube conference. Believe this test only one feasible at present, as no independent Rumanian company likely be willing attempt test for fear reprisals. British say they leased several barges to Rumanian company last year; Rumanian company applied for license, which was granted, but company officials privately informed by Rumanian authorities that any attempt to move barges would be followed by arrests.

Following is comment on Department’s information regarding Danube shipping:

French unwilling sell vessels as their prime interest is in keeping French flag flying on Danube.
Substantially correct, except that Greek ships bought by Rumanian Government were never paid for, and efforts obtain payment unsuccessful. Swiss have presented on behalf of Greeks claim under treaty for return, repair, and compensation for loss of Greek vessels taken over during war, but Rumanian Government has taken no action so far. No Greek vessels operating independently, only under charter to Soviet Rumanian transport.
Correct except that vessels number 14.
Incorrect. Only vessels operable were leased to Rumanian company mentioned above which dares not operate them.
Nothing came of negotiations.

British have Ministry Transport representative here and French SFND (French Danube Navigation Company) man (temporarily absent) both of whom cognizant all details Danube shipping problem Rumania. It is probable these individuals will be called by their governments to Danube conference when it takes place.