Memorandum by the Director, Office of European Affairs (Hickerson) to the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Rusk)
SE’s attached memorandum of conversation1 with Behar Shtylla, Albanian Minister to France, indicates that the Albanian Government wishes to discuss the establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States and may be willing to meet the condition (acceptance of prewar treaty obligations) which we set and which they refused in 1945–46. We are not sure why this approach is being made at this time. It may be assumed that it is made with Soviet consent and probably on Soviet suggestion. Albania’s difficult economic situation may be a major factor in the picture.
There would be certain obvious disadvantages to establishing relations with the Hoxha Government at this juncture. It is now a 100 percent Moscow-controlled police regime. Recognition by the US would be resented by anti-Hoxha elements among Albanians and also by the Greeks. It might be subjected to some criticism in this country as a sign of favor to a particularly unsavory government. In opposing Albania’s entry into the UN we have stated that we consider the Hoxha Government unable or unwilling to fulfill the obligations of the Charter.
On the other hand, an agreement by Albania to accept the prewar treaties would partially meet this criticism. Moreover, if recognition were accorded, the US could state explicitly that such action did not involve or imply approval of the policies and methods of the Albanian Government. The establishment of diplomatic relations would enable us to protect US citizens better than we can at present. It would also [Page 303] contain advantages, from the standpoint of information and possibilities of action, that we do not now enjoy. In the present state of affairs in the Balkans, and especially in Albania, which is a weak spot in the Soviet sphere, the presence of a US Mission in Albania might be very useful.
In any further discussions on the subject the Department might indicate, without setting absolute conditions at the outset, that we would require some assurances not only on the question of prewar treaties, but also on the freedom of any American diplomatic mission to perform its duties without vexatious interference such as Mr. Jacobs had to put up with in 1946. Furthermore, we would have a right to expect changes in Albania’s attitude toward Greece and toward UNSCOB indicating that the Albanian Government had the intention of respecting international law and the rights of other states.
The Albanian approach requires some thought and discussion here and possible consultation with the British. It seems unwise and in fact hardly possible to give the Albanians an early statement of a definite US position.
It is recommended that:
- We let Shtylla know informally today that he cannot expect an immediate answer to his query, and that there is no reason for him to delay his return to Paris on that account.
- We let him know at the same time that the matter can hardly be considered apart from related questions such as Albania’s role in the war in Greece, her failure to cooperate with the UN, etc.
- We inform him also that we will consider any views which he may wish to present later.3
- In preparing for any further exchanges and in formulating the Department’s position on the subject, we should keep our approach flexible, bearing in mind the advantages, in principle, of having diplomatic relations with Albania so long as reasonable conditions are met and so long as the establishment of such relations contributes to the furtherance of our general policy objectives toward the USSR, the Balkans, Greece, etc., and is consistent with our obligations to the UN.
- The reference here is to Campbell’s memorandum of conversation of May 14, supra.↩
- A marginal handwritten notation on the source text indicates that Assistant Secretary Rusk approved numbered recommendations 1, 2, and 3 on May 16. A further handwritten notation by John Campbell records that the recommendations were telephoned to Harry Howard in New York on May 16.↩
- In the source text this recommendation has been revised in handwriting presumably by or at the direction of Assistant Secretary Rusk. The recommendation originally read as follows: “(3) We inform him also that the Department would be glad to take under consideration any proposals his Government may have to offer.”↩