Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief, Division of Southern European Affairs ( Campbell )

  • Participants: Mr. Behar Shtylla, Albanian Minister to France.
  • Mr. Harry N. Howard2GTI
  • Mr. John C. Campbell—SE

Mr. Shtylla said that he had approached Mr. Benjamin V. Cohen of the US Delegation to the General Assembly about ten days ago, saying that he would like to discuss informally the subject of US–Albanian relations. Mr. Cohen informed him that this subject was [Page 300] outside his present duties and that Mr. Shtylla should get in touch with the Departmental officers concerned with Albania. On May 13 Mr. Shtylla approached Mr. Howard at Flushing Meadow. Mr. Howard telephoned the Department and arranged the present interview.3

Mr. Shtylla emphasized that his approach was informal, as he had no formal instructions from his government in the premises, but that he was presenting his government’s views. He stated that since the war the Albanian Government had always desired to have diplomatic relations with the US. Approximately three years having passed without any communications from either side on the subject, his government was prepared to review the situation in the light of what had taken place in this regard in 1945 and 1946 and of present-day circumstances. He wished to know, specifically, what was the position of the US. The contemplated establishment of diplomatic relations had not taken place in 1945 and 1946 owing to a disagreement over Albania’s confirmation of prewar treaties between the two States.4 Did the US, he asked, still stand on the position it had taken in 1946? Or was its position determined by other factors? What he wanted to communicate to his government was a statement of the official position of the US. He wished to know whether the US was willing to consider the question of establishing diplomatic relations with Albania, and, if so, on what terms.

I said that I could give no such statement of policy on behalf of the Department. I was authorized only to hear what he had to say. I then gave a brief resumé of the history of the question since the entry of the Jacobs Mission into Albania in May 1945.5 I noted that the Albanian Government had agreed in 1946 to confirm the multilateral treaties but had still insisted that bilateral treaties be renegotiated after the establishment of diplomatic relations. I referred also to the difficulties which [Page 301] our Mission had encountered in 1946 and to its discourteous treatment at the hands of the Albanian Government. He replied that there had been no such difficulties except those caused by the activities of certain members of the Mission. Mr. Shtylla and I agreed to disagree on this point without going into it further.

I then mentioned the informal visit which Colonel Tuk Jakova paid to the Department in August 1946, when he talked with Mr. Hickerson.6 I then recalled the formula for acceptance of the treaties in principle and renewal of diplomatic relations which had been proposed at that meeting. (This formula met our position in all important respects.) Mr. Shtylla asked whether Albania or the US was responsible for the dropping of this attempted compromise. I said that it was my understanding that we had never heard anything further about it and that it dropped out of sight because Albania did not find it satisfactory. At about the same time the Albanian Government made another proposal, unacceptable to the US, to the effect that the multilateral treaties should be confirmed but not bilateral treaties except after renegotiation following the establishment of diplomatic relations.

I asked Mr. Shtylla if he had any concrete proposals to make. He said that he could not make any proposals until he knew what the US position was. I inquired what Albania would propose, if it might be supposed that the US position was the same as in 1946. He said that he could not make any statement concerning a hypothetical situation, as his instructions did not cover that.

I told Mr. Shtylla that I was returning to Washington on Sunday and would report to the Department what he had said and would find out whether it would be possible to communicate to him an informal statement on the Department’s position such as his Government desired. He stated that he had intended to leave New York for France at the end of the present session of the General Assembly (it will probably conclude tonight or tomorrow), but that he could stay a few more days if necessary for further talks on this subject. I propose to call Mr. Howard late this afternoon, in order that he may communicate with Mr. Shtylla and let him know whether the Department has anything to tell him, and, if so, whether we will communicate again with him in New York within a few days or later through the Embassy in Paris. It would be desirable to have some sort of decision today even if only a decision on whether to suggest that he stay around a few more days in New York. He cannot come to Washington since his visa is good only as far as the New York City limits.

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Although Mr. Shtylla was not expansive I got the impression that the Albanian Government desires to find some formula for the establishment of relations with the US. Perhaps it is ready to accept our views on the treaties, although Mr. Shtylla gave no indication of this. Nothing he said gave any hint as to why Albania had chosen to make this approach at this particular time.

[John C. Campbell]
  1. This meeting presumably was held at the headquarters of the United States Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly at Flushing Meadow, New York.
  2. Howard, Adviser to the Division of Greek, Turkish, and Iranian Affairs, was a member of the United States Delegation to the Third Regular Session of the General Assembly.
  3. According to a memorandum of telephone conversation by Robert M. McKisson of the Division of Southern European Affairs, May 13, not printed, Howard called from United States Delegation headquarters in New York to report that he talked that morning with Minister Shtylla at the latter’s request. Shtylla was in New York in connection with the efforts of the Conciliation Committee of the Third Committee of the General Assembly to resolve the disputes between Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Albania. Shtylla observed that in view of the impending solution of the Berlin crisis and in the light of traditional Albanian-American friendship the time had come informally to discuss United States-Albanian relations. Howard inquired of McKisson whether in view of the fact that Shtylla’s visa did not permit him to travel outside New York the Department might wish to send a representative to New York to talk informally with Shtylla (711.75/5–349).
  4. For documentation on the unsuccessful efforts of the United States in 1945 and 1946 to reach a satisfactory basis for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Albania, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iv, pp. 1 ff. and ibid., 1946, vol. vi, pp. 1 ff.
  5. Foreign Service Officer Joseph E. Jacobs headed the informal United States mission in Albania during 1945 and 1946.
  6. For a brief account of the conversation in August 1946 between then Deputy Director of the Office of European Affairs, John D. Hickerson, and Albanian Minister without Portfolio Tuk Jakova, see telegram 4689, September 9, 1946, to Paris, Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. vi, p. 26.