750G.00/1–2450: Telegram

The Chargé in Yugoslavia (Reams) to the Secretary of State


86. After careful consideration issues raised in Deptel 41 January 20,1 Embassy wishes to reiterate its firm belief that it would be very much to our advantage to bring about early settlement Trieste problem by agreement between Italian and Yugoslav Governments. We find British Foreign Office thinking on this subject (as outlined its telegram 131 January 10 to Washington) closely parallels our own and we strongly endorse proposal of joint démarche.

As we understand it fundamental consideration underlying Department’s attitude has been presumed desirability retaining stabilizing influence of US troops in FTT.2 To our minds advantage of troops’ presence has gradually diminished with improved European situation, and we have felt for some months that it should be our policy to take a more positive line of action by encouraging an Italian–Yugoslav solution that would lead to removal this European sore spot while there is the present opportunity which may not endure or may not come again. Bearing in mind that existing FTT status has proved unworkable, that major western powers are at odds with USSR over future of territory, and that Yugoslavs would surely resist any imposed solution requiring them abandon Zone B, we feel that [Page 1306] an equitable compromise is the most sensible solution. Consequently, we think that policy outlined in Deptel 336 June 30, 19493 offers little prospect achieving anything more than perpetuation of impasse.

We are optimistic that with goodwill of both governments, mutually satisfactory solution could be reached. The Yugoslavs are sincerely desirous of a settlement, as we have pointed out to the Department, because they fear Soviet adherence to the March 20 declaration would kill all hope of compromise and would place Yugoslav Government in obviously critical position. It is apparent that Yugoslav Government takes realistic view that compromise solution would give city of Trieste to Italians. We do not believe that settlement would be regarded internally as unpalatable retreat by government. Incidentally, we lend no credence to Italian suggestion mentioned last paragraph Rome’s despatch 18 January 93 that Yugoslavs are adopting attitude of “protégé” of US, or that Yugoslav Government has any such motivation in connection with Trieste problem as suggested in last paragraph Deptel 41. Although Yugoslav bargaining power is naturally increased by virtue of political benefit to west of continuing existence of regime, we think Italians exaggerate Yugoslav attitude. Yugoslavs are a stubborn and extremely independent minded people, and we think they have rather clearly demonstrated they are unlikely to adopt an attitude of being anyone’s protégé.

On such evidence as we have seen, we are inclined to wonder whether Italian Foreign Office is being less than candid with us on Trieste issue. We have seen, for example, Bevin’s4 account of his August 13 talk with Sforza5 at Strasbourg in which latter outlined what he thought might be a feasible solution of the problem: Yugoslavia would be given part of Zone B, a neutral demilitarized zone would be established, and remainder of territory including Trieste and its public utilities would be returned to Italy. Yet the Italian Foreign Office reportedly stated month later (Rome’s 667 September 14)3 that it “knows of no suggestion by County Sforza to Bevin re solution Trieste problem by agreement on partition Zone B”. Similarly it is difficult to reconcile claim that compromise solution would cause crisis with Government with USPolAd’s6 report (Trieste’s despatch 5, January 8, 1950)3 that such comment as appeared in pro-Italian Triestine press had been mostly favorable re reports of an [Page 1307] apparent Yugoslav desire for solution through direct negotiations with Italy.

It is our opinion Yugoslavs quite correctly consider there is no prospect of getting anywhere with Italians on Trieste issue unless we are willing use our influence to alter their negative attitude. That US and UK hold key to question of whether any compromise can be attempted is self-evident. Consequently we agree with third numbered paragraph reference Deptel that Italians should be approached first. Re second numbered paragraph reference telegram, we would favor approach to Yugoslavs by Ambassador Allen7 as well as British.

Ambassador Allen has read this message and concurs.

Sent Department, repeated Rome 9, pouched Trieste, Moscow.

  1. The same as telegram 213, January 20, 3 p. m., to Rome, supra.
  2. The Free Territory of Trieste.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Ernest Bevin, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  6. Carlo Sforza, Italian Foreign Minister.
  7. Not printed.
  8. Thomas M. Judd, Acting United States Political Adviser to the Commander of the British-United States Zone of the Free Territory of Trieste.
  9. Not printed.
  10. George V. Allen, Ambassador in Yugoslavia.