860H.00/5–2649: Telegram

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


536. Reviewing Yugoslav situation in light CFM conference1 following seem important elements:

1. Local reaction to meeting: No serious concern but watchfulness since one reason for Soviet peace offensive may be Kremlin’s determination to check progress Titoism in Eastern Europe and Yugoslavs are wondering what steps may be contemplated.

2. Relations with Cominform: Tito has been doing all right. Improved trade relations with West have counteracted Cominform blockade and Yugoslavs have kept calm under nerve war and general pressure such as more violent frontier provocations and sprouting of anti-Tito Yugoslav newspapers in Czechoslovakia, Soviet Union, [Page 895] Rumania and Bulgaria. Except for bullying by Albania most of what we have been seeing recently is animosity in these parts of Europe. All of us realized that “brotherly relationship of people’s democracies” was pretty thin veneer. If relations with Soviet Union could be patched up it could be laid on again almost over night. Tito is unafraid of threats on frontiers unless backed by Red Army which he does not expect.

At same time Yugoslav leaders are unhappy about idea of permanent alienation from Soviet Union. No doubt many Yugoslav Communists hope perhaps wistfully that Stalin will perceive justice Yugoslav position and somehow fit it into Soviet system. Even Tito said “They would see their error that only they can rectify. We cannot. All these mistakes must one day disappear”.

If this represents Yugoslav’s best peace offer it is hard to believe Kremlin will be tempted even for sake unity in face growing Western power, but Yugoslavs will no doubt be watching closely progress of CFM particularly on Austrian treaty which might disclose signs of shift in broader Soviet policy. Soviet withdrawal of support of Yugoslav claims would be hard blow in view nostalgia mentioned above. From viewpoint US policy harder the better.

3. Trieste: I think Yugoslavs are reconciled to loss of Trieste and recent propaganda is largely mechanical. Relinquishment of zone B is another matter. Perhaps it can be achieved in general European settlement but I personally wonder whether after this long period of Yugoslav consolidation there transfer to Italy would be unmixed blessing. For reasons often stressed I have been in no hurry to see settlement Trieste question. Presence of US troops at that outpost has been stabilizer as well as symbol and is invaluable adjunct to our foreign policy in Danube and Balkan area.2

4. Austria: At no time since Bebler’s departure for London last February3 have any Yugoslav officials ever mentioned Austrian question to me. I remain convinced Yugoslav people unconcerned and most officials were willing to try on blackmail for what it might be worth. I believe and so stated to Bebler that accident of heavy Slovene element on high level at Foreign Office (Kardelj Bebler Brille4) have exaggerated difficulties and made retreat more painful. I do not even favor long search for face-saving device for Yugoslavs if we can find some way to stop Kremlin from being more Yugoslav than Belgrade.

5. Greece: Trend of events aided we think by our constant but informal pressure here in effectively drying up Yugoslav aid to guerrillas [Page 896] even moral and “humanitarian”. How important to US is it to press for public manifestation this factor Yugoslavs will surely continue to support campaign for composition or consolidation but would despise US if we yield.

6. Conclusion: From foregoing Department will see that we think recent US European policy has been dead right as it affects situation in Yugoslavia. Marshall Plan, air lift, Atlantic Pact have taught useful lesson. Leaders here have been impressed by our firmness and constancy but would again get out of hand if they think a softer phase is coming. I deplore cynicism these observations but it will take some years before these people comprehend high-mindedness of American search for real and enduring peace.

Sent Department, repeated Paris for Secdel 48, London 25, Moscow 55.

  1. For documentation on the Sixth Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, held in Paris, May 23 to June 20, see vol. iii, pp. 856 ff. The session was devoted to the German and Austrian peace settlements. Secretary of State Acheson headed the United States Delegation to this Council session. In his absence, Under Secretary of State Webb served as Acting Secretary of State.
  2. For documentation regarding events in the Free Territory of Trieste, see vol. iv, pp. 497 ff.
  3. Yugoslav Deputy Foreign Minister Bebler visited London in February and March 1949 in connection with the meetings of the Deputies for Austria of the Council of Foreign Ministers. For documentation on these meetings, see vol. iii, pp. 1066 ff.
  4. Joža Brilej, Yugoslav Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs.