Policy Paper Prepared by the Acting Chief, Division of Southeast European Affairs (Campbell)1
To determine a course of action for the US with respect to Albania in the light of possible future developments there including internal revolt and foreign intervention.
Albania is now governed by a Communist regime, dominated by the USSR. It is being used as a base of guerrilla operations against Greece. Its relations with Yugoslavia since the Tito-Kremlin break have been very bad and are punctuated with violent propaganda exchanges and frontier incidents. Within Albania economic distress is increasing and there is widespread dissatisfaction with the regime. Some open resistance has been reported in the mountainous northern areas.
The interest of the USSR is to hold on to its present position in Albania. This position is important because of its strategic location at the entrance to the Adriatic. It is important also for the Soviet campaign against Greece and Soviet pressure on Yugoslavia. Although Albania is cut off physically from the rest of the Soviet bloc and would be hard to hold militarily, the Soviets would not easily abandon it since this would mean a great loss in prestige for the Soviet-Communist world.
The interest of Yugoslavia, in the short run, is to counteract and if possible remove the menace to Yugoslav security represented by a Soviet puppet regime on Tito’s southern flank. In the long term the Tito regime undoubtedly has plans for an Albania closely associated with or incorporated by the Yugoslav Federal Republic. Tito has organized Albanian exiles who have fled to Yugoslavia, whom he is probably prepared to use at an appropriate time. The fact that Yugoslavia [Page 312] has a large Albanian minority living in the districts near the frontier of Albania may give him added opportunities to exploit the situation in the future. There may be within Albania an underground pro-Tito Communist organization, but we have no adequate information on this point.
The interest of Greece is in the elimination of Albania as a base of guerrilla operations against Greece. Moreover, while Greece is desirous of seeing an end of Soviet domination of Albania, it does not wish to see substituted for it an Albania under Yugoslav or Italian influence. The Greeks are particularly sensitive on the Albanian question since Greece has in the past been attacked from this direction. Also, Greece has a territorial claim to southern Albania, which it formerly placed before the CFM in 1946. We do not think the claim well-grounded but have defended the right of Greece to have it considered.
The interest of Italy is in having Albania free from any foreign domination unfriendly to Italy. Mussolini solved this problem by establishing Italian domination, but Italy has learned this lesson and now wishes to see Albania independent as a kind of buffer between Italy and the states of Eastern Europe. Italy would not like to see established in Tirana a regime dependent on Yugoslavia or Greece.
The US, which since the war has generally acted along parallel lines with the UK in Albanian affairs, is on record as favoring a free and independent Albania with a Government representative of the Albanian people. We have had no diplomatic relations with the present regime since it refused to recognize its treaty obligations and has supported guerrilla operations against Greece. A preliminary approach from the Hoxha regime last April suggesting restoration of diplomatic relations was not followed up after we indicated that we could only consider it in connection with Albania’s attitude on treaty obligations and toward Greece.
The US would like to see the present Moscow-dominated regime disappear, but the question then would be what kind of regime would take its place. Most preferable would be a Western-oriented regime such as is desired by the Albanian National Committee, a group of exiled leaders now in Home and Paris. While it could not be expected that Albania could be governed democratically, these Western-oriented elements would be more likely to establish a system which could evolve toward a democratic government than any other elements in the Albanian picture. At present we do not have any means of assessing their popular support in the country. A pro-Tito Communist regime, which would probably be as undemocratic as the present, would be an improvement from the over-all strategic and political [Page 313] point of view. If it were truly Albanian in character and not merely an appendage of Yugoslavia, probably we could accept it as being a free and independent Albanian regime.
We must assume that Tito will be prepared to act in Albania when he considers the situation ripe. At present, however, he can hardly march into Albania without risking an open conflict with the Russians and without stultifying his own case against Soviet designs on Yugoslavia, both before Communist opinion and world opinion.
If the Yugoslavs should enter Albania or bring about an overturn there, the Greeks would wish to march into Albania from the south. On the other hand, if the Greeks should march in first, Tito would be tempted to take action in the north. Such an eventuality probably would result in a struggle between the two and wreck our present attempts to bring them together in a common front against the Soviet bloc. Even if they agreed on a temporary partition of Albania, this would be a basically unstable solution and would be contrary to our declared policy of favoring an independent Albania.
- That the US act in coordination with the UK and France in the Albanian situation as it develops;
- that the US do what it can, through diplomacy, action in the UN on the Greek case,2 and economic measures to weaken the position of the present Soviet-dominated regime in Albania, and hold out no inducements to that regime;
- that the US and other Western powers warn Greece and Yugoslavia, if and when necessary, not to intervene in Albania;
- that the US and other western powers, at an appropriate time, undertake an approach to Tito with a view to sounding out his intentions toward Albania;
- in connection with a possible revolt in Albania, that the US, in seeking its immediate primary objective of eliminating Soviet control of Albania, take account of our traditional position in favor of Albania’s right to independence and avoid unduly prejudicing the interests of Yugoslavia, Greece and Italy;
- that the US give moral support to pro-Western Albanian elements without making any commitments to them; and
- that the Greek-Albanian territorial dispute over Northern Epirus not be permitted to interfere with the primary objectives of eliminating Soviet power in Albania and re-establishing normal relations between the two countries.
- This paper was concurred in by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Rusk and by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Llewellyn E. Thompson. The paper was presumably prepared in connection with the meetings which Secretary of State Acheson expected to have with British Foreign Secretary Bevin and others incident to the convening in Washington of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Council.↩
- Documentation on the consideration of the Greek problem at the Fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly is scheduled for publication in volume vi.↩