860H.014/3–849: Telegram

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


237. Disclosure official protests and counterprotests re Yugoslav-Hungarian border incidents (Embtel 235 March 71) parallels similar situation re Yugoslav-Albanian border (Embtel 187 February 242) and in conjunction with Serb Minister Interior statement re infiltration Hungarian and Bulgarian agents (Embtel 193 February 253) indicates steadily mounting tension on Yugoslavia’s Cominform frontiers.

Our thinking on basis evidence available here inclines to theory that major Cominform political effort would come thru Macedonia and that reorganized Greek guerrillas and Slavo-Macedonians have been selected as primary agents. This device would have incidental benefits of avoiding governmental responsibility, of striking in area of historic and current unrest and of creating most difficult situation for Yugoslav Government. Last element may be most important for if Yugoslav Government takes appropriate countermeasures Cominform [Page 878] would have adequate evidence for its charge that Tito has sold out to west and united Greek and Bulgarian Macedonians would exploit possibilities furthest. That Yugoslav Government seems fully conscious these possibilities may be assumed from yesterday’s Pijade blast (Embtel 234, March 74).

On this theory Hungarian and Albanian border provocations would be minor diversions designed (1) step up war of nerves (2) prevent Yugoslav concentration on Macedonia and (3) weaken Yugoslav economy and dissipate resources more or less analogously to rolling strikes in west Europe. Cominform strategy may thus plan drive Yugoslavia farther and faster to west politically as it may have hoped to do economically by exclusion from CMEA. We have no doubt Moscow realizes nothing can be so corrosive to its world-wide program as continued existence orthodox but anti-Kremlin Communist state.

We have been unable find evidence here to support Budapest’s recent series telegrams re mobilization signs (see particularly its 368 March 55) and have received no corroborating information from missions in Yugoslavia’s other neighbors but there always danger explosion in type of projects now being tried out on Yugoslav borders.6 Surely Moscow is aware of that risk.

Public display 14 captured or refugee Hungarian soldiers at Belgrade railroad station Sunday morning may be taken as fresh evidence Yugoslavs will not be intimidated. I talked with Vice Minister Popovic yesterday afternoon. He showed no nervousness whatever and accounted for Hungarian and Albanian provocations as intensified war of nerves.

If other information available to Department suggests that situation is in fact more ominous than we have hitherto believed it seems necessary that plan US action be formulated. In event of invasion something more immediately effective than reference to SC would be necessary. It would be useful to know for example how Department [Page 879] would like me to react if occasion should arise for ascertaining Yugoslav Government’s needs for military material.7

Pass to Defense.

  1. Not printed; it reported that Borba, the newspaper of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, had that day carried a long front-page article reviewing recent exchanges of notes between the Yugoslav and Hungarian Governments on alleged border violations (760H.6415/3–749). The text of the Borba article was subsequently transmitted to the Department as an enclosure to despatch 92, March 8, from Belgrade, not printed (760H.6415/3–849).
  2. Not printed; it reported that the Yugoslav press had unleashed an intensive propaganda campaign against Albania, its leaders, and its policies (760H.75/2–2449). The campaign was reported upon in detail in despatch 83, March 4, from Belgrade, not printed (760H.75/3–449).
  3. Not printed; it reported that the Serbian Minister of Interior, Slobodan Penezić, had discussed Cominform infiltration tactics during an address on February 19 to a special session of the People’s Assembly of Serbia (860H.032/2–2549).
  4. Not printed; it reported on a major article by Moša Pijade, member of the Politburo of the Yugoslav Communist Party, Vice Chairman of the Presidium of the Skupština (Parliament), and leading official Yugoslav publicist, appearing in Borba on March 6 and entitled “Regarding the Question of the Balkan Federation” (868.00/3–749). The text of the article was transmitted to the Department as an enclosure to despatch 90 bis, March 9, from Belgrade (760H.74/3–949).
  5. Not printed.
  6. Telegram 264, March 18, from The Hague, not printed, reported that the Netherlands’ Foreign Ministry was inclined to give credence to a prediction by the Dutch Minister in Belgrade of imminent armed action against Yugoslavia by the Eastern European satellites (760H.61/3–1849). Telegram 268, April 7, from Bucharest, not printed, reported that the Legation had made every effort for several months to investigate repeated rumors of heavy Soviet troop movements through Dobruja and along the Romanian-Yugoslav frontier but had obtained no confirmation. The Legation was inclined to attribute the rumors to Soviet and Romanian “stooges” as part of a war of nerves against Yugoslavia (861.2371/4–749).
  7. Telegram 122, March 11, to Belgrade, stated that the Department shared Ambassador Cannon’s appraisal set forth in this telegram. The Department was studying the entire situation in consultation with other interested agencies of the government (868.014/3–1149).

    Additional documentation regarding the changes in policies within the Greek revolutionary movement, the possible creation of an independent Macedonian republic, and the relationship of these developments to relations between Yugoslavia and Greece is scheduled for publication in volume vi.