875.00/9–1549: Telegram

The Ambassador in Yugoslavia ( Cannon ) to the Secretary of State

top secret

928. Department will have observed that at no time have Yugoslavs discussed Albanian situation (Deptel 535 September 131) with me along lines of British Ambassador’s conversations in August communicated to Department through British Embassy Washington.2 It therefore seemed to us advantage we should not invite discussion at this stage particularly since I felt Peake’s talks might be putting ideas into Yugoslav heads.

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My guarded references to Albania in general talks (e.g. Embtel 911 September 123) have elicited only remarks showing Yugoslavs aware Soviets might stir up trouble on Albanian-Yugoslav frontier and especially they have confirmed my impression that Yugoslavia’s chief anxiety hitherto has been lest Greeks go into action against Albania whether with our connivance or against our advice. That Bebler did not forget my lecture on Albania eighteen months ago (Embtel 297 March 11, 19484) I know to be fact for he recently referred to it noting ruefully how Yugoslav position in Albania had changed since that time.

Yugoslavia’s ostentatious indifference to new Albanian committee since one and only communiqué (Embtel 874 September 25) might be suspect and Pijade’s article (Embtel 919 September 146) can be read as warning against threat to system of government in Albania as well as independence and integrity though most observers here think Yugoslav present international position too delicate to risk involvement without direct and vital provocation.

Department will recall that principal theme in Peake’s talks with Bebler was latter’s preoccupation with idea that Soviets might oblige Albania to invoke mutual assistance pacts. Danger of chain reaction if that system of satellite pacts should be made operative is evident and doubtless chief deterrent to Yugoslavia risking involvement in Albanian affairs unless major events from some other quarter precipitate general flare-up. Job would then be to keep Yugoslavs within bounds.

Notwithstanding denial of existence Albanian committee in Yugoslavia best available evidence indicates two such groups formed or ready quickly to be set up: one military at Pee and one civilian at [Page 318] Prizren. We must also assume Yugoslavs have agents throughout Albania who keep Belgrade quickly informed of all developments.

Bebler told me Albanians recently made overtures for discussions to straighten out heavy indebtedness (Embtel 837 July 4, 19487). Since Albanian Government has no money or credit and generally is in desperate straits he wonders what purpose this gambit was designed to serve.

Cannon
  1. Not printed; it instructed Ambassador Cannon to be guided by telegram 1930, August 25, to Rome (p. 310), until further specific instructions on the situation in Albania were sent (875.00/9–1340).
  2. The records of conversations under reference here have not been further identified. The Embassy in Belgrade does not appear to have reported to the Department at the time regarding the conversations in August between British Ambassador Peake and Yugoslav Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Aleš Bebler. In his telegram 1175, November 14, from Belgrade, not printed, Ambassador Cannon did report that on August 8 Bebler had expressed anxiety to Peake regarding Greek National Army violations of the Albanian frontier and made known his hope that Britain would urge restraint on the Greeks (760H.75/11–1449).
  3. Not printed; it reported upon comments made by Assistant Foreign Minister Bebler to Ambassador Cannon regarding the Yugoslav-Soviet dispute and the internal Yugoslav situation (860H.00/9–1249).
  4. Not printed. In it Ambassador Cannon reported on a conversation held the previous day with Assistant Foreign Minister Bebler. Bebler explained that the Yugoslav Government was deeply concerned about the revival of claims to Albanian territory by the Greek Government, claims apparently made with full United States encouragement. Cannon replied by insisting that Yugoslavia well knew the real purposes of United States military aid to Greece. Cannon continued: “As for US encouragement I gave him solemn assurance that US policy did not contemplate any revision of Albanian frontiers in connection with present events in Greece” (768.75/3–1148). Telegram 123, March 18, 1948, to Belgrade, not printed, instructed that Bebler be informed that the Department of State fully endorsed the views and comments expressed by Ambassador Cannon in the March 10 conversation (768.75/3–848).
  5. Not printed; it reported that the emphasis of TANJUG commentary on the establishment of the Free Albania Committee was the denial of Cominform accusations that Yugoslavia had sponsored a similar Albanian exile committee or that Yugoslavia had designs on Albanian territory (875.00/9–249).
  6. Not printed; it reported that in a lead editorial appearing in the newspaper Borba, Moša Pijade, member of the Politburo of the Yugoslav Communist Party and the Party’s foremost theoretician, bitterly denounced recent Cominform accusations that Yugoslavia had agreed with Greece to partition Albania (760H.75/9–1449).
  7. Not printed.