124.74/10–1249: Telegram

The Minister in Bulgaria ( Heath ) to the Secretary of State


864. In interview with Foreign Minister [Poptomov] yesterday I referred to Bulgarian note suggesting Legation American staff be reduced to 20 including personnel of Military Attaché’s office.1 Foreign Minister said they did not intend to dictate size of staff nor [Page 353] advance theory that mission’s staff in Washington and Sofia should be equal in size, although, he added with smile that would be simplest formula. He repeated old argument about housing shortage, food, etc., and said that government could not see necessity of such large staff in view of limited travel, cultural and commercial exchange between two countries. Foreign Office was receiving continual objections from “Bulgarians” inquiring why necessary for UK and certain other countries maintain such large staff and whether in effect these countries were trying to build up a system of “capitulations.”

I laughed this off and I do not think Foreign Minister expected me to take these arguments seriously. I said a staff of 33 for chancery alone which we proposed to maintain here was a very small staff for a diplomatic mission. His figure of 20 was completely out of question. I then stated that with minimum staff of counselor, secretaries, Cultural and Commercial Attachés and guards minimum chancery staff alone must exceed 20. He did not seem inclined to dispute my explanations and only asked why it was necessary to have a second code clerk and second accountant. Assistant Foreign Minister Kamenov who was present then interrupted to say surely two Military Attachés were sufficient. I answered that already one assistant Military Attaché had left and another was scheduled to leave without replacement.

Foreign Minister made some jocular remarks to effect that vaunted American efficiency and labor productivity should enable us to do our work with less personnel. I replied in kind that administrative requirements necessitating additional personnel were not by any means unknown to Bulgarian Government. It seemed to me that Foreign Minister was not ready to come to settlement of issue at this meeting so I arranged that prior to my departure for conference at London to talk with Assistant Foreign Minister Kamenov. I think we can take it for granted that unless we get some new leverage Bulgarian Government will never agree to chancery staff of 33. On other hand, I believe that Foreign Office does not expect Legation to accept figure of 20.

Am sending today reply to Bulgarian Government re size of Legation as instructed Department’s 357 October 10.2

  1. A copy of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry note verbale under reference here, dated October 5, was transmitted to the Department of State as an enclosure to despatch 244, October 13, from Sofia, neither printed (124.74/10–1349). Minister Heath commented upon the note in his telegram 847, October 7, from Sofia, not printed (124.74/10–749).
  2. Not printed; it authorized Minister Heath to reject the principle that the Bulgarian Government could determine the size of the Legation staff and the specific figure of 20 and to recall that it already had been stated that the Legation chancery required a minimum staff of 33 (124.74/10–749). A copy of the Minister’s note of reply, dated October 13, was transmitted to the Department as an enclosure to despatch 244, October 13, from Sofia, neither printed (124.74/10–749).