750G.00/6–350: Telegram

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


706. I left following aide-mémoire with Deputy Foreign Minister Prica1 today: “Mr. Allen said his government had in no way lessened interest in Trieste situation or hope that solution might be found through direct Yugoslav-Italian negotiations. He said Department was aware, from statements by Foreign Minister Kardelj and Ambassador Popović2 in Washington, that Yugoslavia did not believe conditions existed for immediate solution of problem. Mr. Allen expressed renewed hope, nevertheless, that both Italian and Yugoslav Governments would continue to seek solution and would not take actions which would render an understanding more difficult.

“In latter connection, Mr. Allen asked Mr. Prica if he could say what the purpose of Yugoslav authorities was in imposing restrictions on travel between Zones B and A and whether it might be feasible to lift them.”

Prica, who had been approached on this subject already by British and French Ambassadors,3 replied in strong terms, reflecting more irritation and bitterness than I have ever witnessed on part any Yugoslav official. He said Yugoslav Government would find it most difficult to restrain itself on this question any longer, since Yugoslav willingness to remain quiet “at our request” had led public in US and western Europe to swallow Italian propaganda and regard Yugoslavia as responsible for present Trieste situation. He said only Cominform [Page 1323] was benefitting from continued strife over Trieste and professed inability to comprehend why US Government, whose assistance to Italy was hundred times greater than to Yugoslavia, found it impossible to persuade Italians to accept our advice to remain quiet. He characterized Italian press agitation against Zone B travel restrictions as “ridiculous” and recalled that when Yugoslavs had protested long ago over our travel restrictions in Zone A, we had replied that they were international matter. He alleged that Zone B restrictions were made necessary by smuggling of persons and goods, had never been made air-tight since Yugoslavs had permitted minimum of 1,000 persons to cross zone frontier daily, and were already being relaxed. He declared restrictions would be further relaxed to maximum extent conditions permitted.

I urged in strong but friendly terms that Yugoslav Government refrain, in its own interests and in our common desire to avoid giving aid and comfort to Cominform, from rash or hasty actions.

Prica was undoubtedly speaking under instructions and reflecting true Yugoslav bitterness over what they regard as renewed triparite pressure. I should point out, however, that Prica took no exception to the contents of my memorandum and said he considered our general point of view constructive provided it could effectively be made known to the Italian Government4 as well.

Sent Department 706, repeated info Rome 92, Trieste 43.

  1. Srdja Prica, Fifth Deputy Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia.
  2. Vladimir Popović, who made his initial courtesy call on Mr. Perkins at the Department June 1, 1950. At that time the new Ambassador of Yugoslavia launched into a lengthy discussion of Italian-Yugoslavian relations. In a memorandum of the conversation, not printed, Mr. Perkins recorded that the Ambassador heavily stressed Yugoslavia’s desire to reach a general settlement with Italy of all outstanding problems but that the Italians were responsible for the interruptions of negotiations. Mr. Perkins reminded the Ambassador of Foreign Minister Kardelj’s attack on Italy in his Maribor speech of February 27. (665.68/6–150)
  3. Jean Payart.
  4. On June 3, 1950, in Rome’s telegram 2323, not printed, Ambassador Dunn reported that he had received a note from Sforza on Trieste dated June 1. The rough translation of the note reads as follows:

    “In my recent speech in Senate (May 26) and in talks in London on the occasion of last NA Council meeting, I said that to be able to initiate direct Italian-Yugoslav negotiations on delicate question of Zone B it was indispensable to have period of watchful silence which would lay to rest polemics and remove all bitterness thus creating suitable atmosphere for tranquil study of problem.

    “On Italian Government’s side necessary action was naturally taken to this end; but on Yugoslav side necessary not be grounds for inevitable and justifiable act [garble] as result of initiation or continuation of vexatious measures infringing fundamental rights of Italians. This applies to traffic between zones on which no obstacle was placed until few months ago, now rendered difficult, although not formally restricted by direct police action against sea and land traffic, as UK, French, and US observers can daily note. To this situation must be added drafting of persons allegedly in public interest with result that workers in Zone B employed in Zone A must either go without work or move with families to Zone A. Continuous distribution by Yugoslav authorities in Zone B of forms to request transfer of residence to Zone A supports this hypothesis.

    “All these Yugoslav actions, which have had deep reaction on Italian public opinion, are of relatively recent date and have disturbed relations between two countries which, since the end of war and even before separation of Yugoslavia from Cominform, were gradually improving, to point of making possible initiation of negotiations on numerous pending questions most of which have been satisfactorily resolved.

    “You will agree that re-establishment and maintenance of that atmosphere is indispensable for starting any kind of direct negotiations with sufficient prospect of success. If we for our part have not taken steps which would make restoration of that atmosphere difficult, it is also necessary I repeat that its renewal be sought with good will on Yugoslav side.” (665.68/6–350)