No. 661


Department of State Policy Statement1



a. objectives

The long range objectives of the US toward Bulgaria are a segment of our broad policy goals with respect to the USSR. Their realization is thus dependent upon the success of our general strategy in dealing with the Soviet Union; conversely, progress toward our Bulgarian aims will contribute to this larger purpose. Within this concept our fundamental objective toward Bulgaria is to encourage the eventual replacement of its present USSR-controlled regime by an independent, popularly-based state which the US could welcome into the United Nations and which in its external relations would play a constructive role in the Balkans, conduct free foreign commercial relations, and accord to US interests equality of treatment with those of all other states.

b. policies

1. Political

The great obstacle to the realization of US policies toward Bulgaria lies in the absolute control of this satellite of the USSR by a picked group of Communist agents. Bulgaria is being molded, as rapidly as domestic conditions will permit, into a replica of a Soviet republic. This Sovietization process has now advanced to the point where virtually every government agency is subservient to direct [Page 1328] or indirect Soviet domination, and Bulgaria retains little more than nominal autonomy in any aspect of government. In the past five years the Communist regime has accomplished the systematic destruction of the rudimentary but promising development of free and democratic institutions, and has achieved complete mastery over the national economy, suppression of basic human freedoms and a rigid control of the individual’s right to work.

Governmental responsibility for these activities rests with the small “hard core” of the Bulgarian Cominformists, while active supervision of their operations rests with an assigned contingent of Soviet personnel believed to number at least 10,000. By recent Bulgarian law Soviet citizens in Bulgaria are now eligible to assume any official position in the Bulgarian Government to which they may be appointed or “elected.”

There is no reason to believe at this stage that “national deviationism,” although always a significant factor, seriously threatens the Cominformist control. On the contrary the demonstration of the undisputed authority of Moscow over the local regime has strengthened the popular Bulgarian conviction that the people alone cannot cope with the present dictatorship, that the latter would have the unhesitating support of the Soviet Army if its supremacy were challenged from any source, and that a future war between forces grouped around the US and the Soviet Union offers the only prospect of deliverance from the present tyranny.

Within Bulgaria a formal, organized opposition does not exist. The only substantial deterrent to the Bulgarian Government’s goal of complete communism has been the stolid hostility and deliberate obstructionism of the peasants, but even this has been largely neutralized by measures taken in connection with the intensive and often ruthless drive to collectivize the majority of land holdings. Although there is a widespread latent hatred of the regime, this has as yet been ineffective, partially because of the vigilance of the state security organs, and partially because the daily struggle for existence, intensified by the relentless pressure maintained for fulfillment of the current economic Five Year Plan, has become so grim that the bitterness of hate has been forced to yield to the apathy of exhaustion.

There is some evidence that small clandestine opposition groupings do exist in Bulgaria, but the main effort toward organization is being made by Bulgarian exiles abroad. Several groups have been formed, the most prominent and largest of which is the Bulgarian National Committee headed by Dr. Georgi M. Dimitrov (no relation to the first Communist Prime Minister). The Committee claims that it includes representatives of all democratic elements in exile and maintains contacts within the country; it is however, [Page 1329] dominated by Dr. Dimitrov and representatives of the National Agrarian Union, a component of the International Peasant Union. Because of this one-party control, anti-Dimitrov exiles view the Committee with mistrust, and accuse its president of dictatorial aspirations. This opposition has assumed proportions which have vitiated the effectiveness of the Bulgarian National Committee as an anti-Communist organization. It is now evident that Bulgarians in exile must abandon the diversions of Balkan politics and build up an exile organization on a democratic but non-partisan foundation if they intend to make any constructive contribution toward the liberation of their country.

United States policy is to encourage unofficially the establishment of the type of democratic, non-partisan exile organization visualized above, but to avoid direct interference with its internal affairs. If such an organization should prove truly representative we would consider extending it official recognition as spokesman for all Bulgarians in exile. However, we do not favor the development of a government-in-exile, believing the concept to be unrealistic in view of the limited number of personalities engaged in Bulgarian refugee politics.

The Bulgarian Government has consistently waged a campaign of vilification against the United States, our institutions and our policies. In Sofia our Legation was subjected to an ever-increasing number of administrative restrictions and open provocations, culminating in the vicious and wholly unfounded charges against our Chief of Mission uttered in the course of the Kostov trial, and the subsequent request for his recall as persona non grata. The Bulgarian Government’s persistence in this request confirmed its unwillingness to observe even the minimum standards of international comity in its relations with the United States, and accordingly on February 24, 1950, we suspended diplomatic relations with Bulgaria. By suspending rather than severing diplomatic relations, we have continued to recognize the present regime as the responsible government of Bulgaria and hence answerable for its violations of the provisions of the Treaty of Peace. The Swiss Legation in Sofia has accepted protection of American interests in Bulgaria.2

Suspension of diplomatic relations has not altered the attitude of the Bulgarian Government nor has it removed the many problems arising out of Bulgarian treatment of American interests. Our economic interests have suffered from discrimination and from measures of nationalization without effective compensation. American [Page 1330] cultural and educational influence has been subjected to unceasing attack, including prohibition of the reopening of the American College at Sofia and the closing of the Girl’s School at Lovetch. American social welfare operations have been unable to function within the country, and American religious influence has been ruthlessly eradicated. We believe that these measures have been taken against the wishes and welfare of the majority of Bulgarians, and we have consistently refused to recognize the validity of any law, decree or judicial decision which is designed to further the regime’s drive to destroy American interests and to eliminate American influence.

In the face of the continuous barrage of vilification of the US by Bulgarian officials, press, and radio, the only rebuttals to reach the Bulgarian people are the short, daily Voice of America broadcasts. These offer the observations of the free world upon Soviet and Bulgarian Communist activities, and demonstrate wherever possible continuing US concern for the welfare of the Bulgarian people. It is also hoped that these broadcasts encourage the people in resistance by creating confidence in Western ability and intentions actively to oppose Soviet imperialism.

US and UK efforts to induce the USSR to honor its international commitments with respect to Bulgaria have proved fruitless, and the Bulgarian Government, encouraged by its Soviet masters, has unhesitatingly ignored its obligations under the Treaty of Peace. Although this disregard has applied fully in the military and economic fields, the most flagrant violation has been the systematic denial of human rights and fundamental freedoms to the people. We have sought to exert a restraining influence and to make our position clear by official protests, public statements and finally by formal charges of violations of Article 2 of the Peace Treaty. In pressing these charges we have exhausted the possibilities for enforcement contained in the Treaty itself. These issues have also been placed before the UN. The International Court of Justice, asked for an advisory opinion, held that our charges properly justify invocation of the disputes clauses of the treaty. Bulgaria has answered this by denying the jurisdiction of the court. Faced with this final manifestation of bad faith, we are now preparing to place the substance of our case before the members of the UN, in accordance with a resolution passed in the fifth session of the GA condemning Bulgaria’s willful refusal to fulfill treaty obligations and calling for submission to the Secretary General of the UN of evidence relative to this question. In addition to our unremitting efforts to enforce Bulgarian compliance with Article 2 we are calling [Page 1331] attention to violation of the military clauses, in appropriate international forums and with suitable publicity.3

Whenever Bulgaria’s application for membership has been discussed in the United Nations, the US, as well as the UK, has presented the record and successfully argued that the Bulgarian Government has shown it is unwilling, despite promises, to observe the obligations expected of members of the UN. While we remain opposed to Bulgarian membership in the UN, subject to considerations which may arise from the over-all problems of membership in the UN, we do not actively oppose Bulgarian membership in international organizations sponsored by the UN. Our policy in such organizations is to abstain from any discussion or voting on the question unless other policy considerations intervene.

2. Economic

US-Bulgarian trade has never been important from the American viewpoint. While Bulgaria’s Communist regime has consistently opposed US economic objectives, the US, on its part, continues to support such trade with Bulgaria as will, on balance, add to the strength of the Free World. We recognize that Bulgaria maintains such trade as does exist primarily in order to acquire vital products not available within the area under Soviet influence. It is accordingly our policy to maintain rigid controls on exports to Bulgaria and to refuse export licenses for any articles and any technological information which might aid its war potential or that of the USSR. Our export controls extend to technological information in all forms. Bulgaria no longer enjoys most favored nation treatment in trade with the US.4

The US retains nearly $3 million of blocked or vested Bulgarian Government and private assets, which is slightly greater than the amount of US claims against Bulgaria. Concurrently with suspension of diplomatic relations, we moved to prevent depletion of these blocked assets and revoked the general license for remittances from blocked funds to private owners in Bulgaria. We have not prevented remittances to private owners outside of Soviet-controlled areas, and we have not blocked any assets in the US acquired by Bulgaria since 1945. We intend to preserve, so far as possible, those funds now blocked and to continue control over them until war claims are met, and adequate and effective compensation is assured for the expropriation or other taking of American property. Such measures are deemed necessary to ensure that any losses caused [Page 1332] American owners as a result of Bulgaria’s forced liquidation of the small US investment in that country shall be held to a minimum.

Our policy on financial assistance to Bulgaria is to refuse any government loans and to oppose private loans. So far as is known, no private loans have been made.

The USSR has aimed at excluding US aircraft from eastern Europe, while simultaneously seeking rights for Soviet orbit carriers to operate in the airspace of other countries. Our general policy is to restrict the civil air operation of the USSR and its satellites to their territory, with the possible exception of reciprocal short-term arrangements for exchange of air rights when clearly advantageous to us. In the case of Bulgaria this exception has not been applied since any such agreement would reflect unfavorably on our present political policy. In keeping with our general policy toward the USSR and its satellites, we have denied Bulgaria all aviation equipment and aircraft maintenance facilities. Our efforts to solicit the support of other non-Curtain states in this program are continuing.5

As provided for by a decision of the Council of Foreign Ministers in 1946 an international conference was held at Belgrade in August 1948 to draft a new convention governing navigation upon the Danube. The Soviet bloc, including Bulgaria, outvoted the US and other Western participants in approving a Convention which left the USSR in effective control of the river.6 The Convention has been implemented and the Commissions created under it meet regularly. The US does not recognize the validity of this Convention and has charged the USSR and its satellites with responsibility for the absence of freedom of navigation on the Danube. Bulgaria, in subscribing to this Convention has violated its peace treaty obligation guaranteeing freedom of navigation. While not disregarding this violation, we have not, up to now, found it possible to undertake any effective action to enforce Bulgarian compliance.

c. relations with other countries

Bulgaria has a foreign policy which is completely under the control of the USSR. In this pattern all eastern European countries subservient to Moscow are bound together by treaties of alliance and commerce, they work together in the Russian-sponsored Council for Mutual Economic Aid, they are members of the Cominform, and their policy toward one another and countries outside the bloc [Page 1333] is formulated by Moscow. Toward “capitalist” governments the Bulgarian regime maintains an attitude of hostility the intensity of which is dictated by Soviet instructions. The leading countries of the Free World, especially the US which is represented as the prime instigator of all anti-Soviet activities, are the objects of virulent propaganda attack.

Bulgaria’s relations with Yugoslavia have steadily deteriorated since the TitoCominform rift was announced in June 1948. Although diplomatic relations have been strained nearly to the breaking point several times. Yugoslavia still maintains a drastically reduced diplomatic mission in Sofia, under a low-ranking Chargé d’Affaires. Bulgaria has repeatedly accused Yugoslavia of deliberate border violations and the conduct of subversive activity within Bulgaria. Residents of the border zone on the Bulgarian side have been evacuated and border garrisons heavily reinforced. Bulgaria harbors a small group of pro-Cominform Yugoslavs who are actively organized in anti-Tito activities. All major treaties and agreements between the two countries have been revoked. Cominformists, with a view to weakening Tito’s regime, have sought to appeal to Macedonian nationalists with the promise of a unified Macedonia, within the Soviet orbit, embracing Macedonian territories now within Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Greece. All of these factors have contributed to create constant tension along the border, heightened by recurrent rumors of an impending Bulgarian attack on Yugoslavia. Persistent reports have accompanied these developments to the effect that Bulgaria may be chosen by the Soviets as the spearhead for a satellite attack on Yugoslavia. The situation has reached the point now that such an attack is a distinct possibility.

Despite the termination of active guerrilla hostilities in Greece and the elimination of active Bulgarian aid to combatant guerrillas, relations between Bulgaria and Greece have remained greatly strained and there is no present possibility for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Greek guerrillas are still housed and trained in camps in Bulgaria. Bulgarian propaganda heaps abuse upon the Greek Government, and Bulgaria regularly submits charges to the UN of alleged border violations by Greek troops. The United Nations Special Commission on the Balkans maintains constant observation of the situation along the Greek-Bulgarian border, but has so far not been recognized by Bulgaria. Recurrent Cominform efforts to arouse Macedonian nationalist aspirations have served to exacerbate relations, since their realization would require outright cession of present Greek territory. Thus, although the situation may be somewhat less acute than it is along the Bulgarian-Yugoslav border, a state of tension is maintained, [Page 1334] supporting belief in possible Bulgarian aggressive intentions against Greece. Bulgarian refugees continue to cross the frontier in small numbers and are maintained in camps operated by Greek authorities or by the International Refugee Organization. As for Bulgaria’s obligation to arrive at an equitable settlement with Greece, in accordance with Peace Treaty provisions for the restitution of Greek property and payment of fixed reparations, the Bulgarian Government has maintained an intransigent silence.

The Bulgarian regime has apparently abandoned the somewhat restrained policy which it previously observed in its relations with Turkey. Bulgarian demands in August 1950 that Turkey accept the transfer to Turkey within three months of 250,000 Bulgarian citizens of Turkish origin created a crisis which resulted in temporary closing of the border between the two countries and almost caused severance of diplomatic relations. Although a solution to this problem was eventually agreed upon, relations have definitely worsened. Sporadic incidents continue to occur. Turkey has a policy of asylum for Bulgarian political refugees which, coupled with the derogatory comments of the Turkish press and radio upon Communism, rankles with Sofia. On its side, Turkey views Bulgaria as an obvious and active Soviet base threatening the Straits.

In regard to Bulgaria’s relations with all three of her non-Cominform neighbors there has been, in recent months, a significant new Bulgarian propaganda line, charging the existence of an American-sponsored alliance of these three countries, specifically directed against Bulgaria and Albania. This charge has recently been partially formalized in a Bulgarian note to the UN in connection with alleged Greek violations of Bulgarian airspace. Bulgaria is periodically reminded that the United Nations Special Committee on the Balkans is the proper agency to investigate such allegations, but, despite the obvious inconsistency of its position, the Bulgarian Government has so far resisted every effort made by the UN to secure its cooperation.

d. policy evaluation

The actions taken hitherto by the US have not impeded the consolidation of the Bulgarian Communist regime. However, the firm position taken by the US during the Rostov trial and the subsequent events culminating in suspension of diplomatic relations, coupled with our forceful and continuing condemnation of Communist excesses, in all appropriate forums, has served to maintain the few political restraints we can apply, and has at least kept the Bulgarian regime on the defensive. Through the Voice of America broadcasts, we are giving full publicity to the views and actions of the US, and have kept alive their belief in eventual liberation. Particularly, [Page 1335] however, the effectiveness of our specific Bulgarian policy has been strengthened by our political and military opposition to Communism on all fronts throughout the world, as a practical demonstration of US determination to curb Communist expansion. Finally, as a result, and aside from its effect on Bulgaria, our policy has played its part in alerting the American people and the Western world to the true nature of Soviet-directed Communism.

Certain of the present US activities have proved particularly effective. Their continuation is justified on the basis of past results and in some instances intensification of these activities should have effects beneficial to our aims both internationally and within Bulgaria:

The Voice of America broadcasts have long been a support to Bulgarian morale, and the substantial results which have been achieved warrant the belief that this program, with continued improvement and intensification, may become a positive factor in building morale. Constant attention must still be given to ways of increasing the effectiveness of the present broadcasts so that they respond consistently to the desires and needs of the listeners. The Voice of America has been a powerful force in attacking and exposing Communist propaganda, and in demonstrating to the Bulgarian listeners American awareness of conditions in that country. To further the constructive effect of these broadcasts greater emphasis should now be placed on programs designed to build an understanding of the methods, institutions and aims of democracy and how these are compatible with and will serve to implement Bulgarian aspirations.
Every effort should be made to explore the use of other appropriate informational media to supplement the Voice of America and further its aims.
Effectiveness of the present US position toward Bulgaria is undermined by our failure to make entirely clear to the Bulgarians what we expect of them and what they may expect of us. We must not only continue, without encouraging hopeless open revolt, to demonstrate the concern which the US has for the welfare of the Bulgarian people and the understanding of their problems; we must sustain their growing confidence in Western ability and intention to oppose Communism and their own capacity, under favorable conditions, to contribute to their own deliverance. This is essential if we are to succeed in our policy of encouraging such resistance on the part of the Bulgarian people to the Soviet-dominated regime and Soviet ideology as we and the other democratic countries can effectively support.
It is anticipated that submission of evidence to the UN will afford valuable publicity to prove the Bulgarian regime’s violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the Treaty of Peace, but it is improbable that it will promote Bulgarian compliance with the treaty obligations. Nevertheless, apart from the importance of this method of giving international notoriety to Bulgaria’s flagrant violations of these provisions, it is evident that Bulgaria is sensitive to the effect it may have on Bulgarian and [Page 1336] world opinion. Accordingly, it is important that the US should continue to give full publicity to violations of these and other important provisions of the Treaty by the Bulgarian Government, with the connivance of the USSR, and should not fail to employ any means available under the Peace Treaty and the UN Charter to publicize, and if possible, to secure redress for such violations.
Rigid controls on exports to Bulgaria and the Voice of America broadcasts constitute the most effective available instruments whereby the US can directly make its influence felt toward deferring suspected plans for Bulgarian aggression against either Yugoslavia or neighboring non-Communist states. More important in this regard is the growing military strength of the US and its allies and the continued extension of assistance in varying form and degree to enable Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia to resist such threats or acts of aggression. We should cooperate as closely as possible with neighboring countries to assure maximum information on developments within Bulgaria and coordination of activities designed to promote difficulties for the regime and to detract from its military potential. In this connection, high priority should be given to exploiting rifts within the Bulgarian regime and to development of a campaign of psychological warfare against the Bulgarian army.
Insofar as we may do so without jeopardizing their maintenance of diplomatic relations with Bulgaria, we should continue to seek the cooperation and support of other democratic countries in the application of our policy toward Bulgaria. This support greatly increases the effectiveness of our policy and the assistance of these countries is invaluable as providing a source for information otherwise unavailable to us. In the economic field the effectiveness of this cooperation will be improved if we can succeed in impressing upon other democracies engaged in trade with Bulgaria the importance of increased control of exports as an additional safeguard to the controls already established by agreed international lists.

Other problems which may require US policy decisions in the near future:

The US has sought to maintain friendly contact with the Bulgarian National Committee and other Bulgarian refugee organizations, always on an unofficial basis. Increasing deterioration of the world situation has intensified both the activities and rivalries of these organizations. It is in the interest of our political objectives to have a unified and representative Bulgarian exile agency, of sufficient stature to surmount the present dissension in exile politics. Moreover, this is a fundamental prerequisite for the establishment of a coordinated and effective opposition. It is hoped the exiles themselves will succeed in forming an organization of this character. If this proves impossible, it will probably become necessary for us to consider additional measures whereby we could favorably influence such a development, even though this might require modification of our present practice of non-intervention. Ultimately, when a truly representative organization has been established, and has proved itself in practice, it may be found opportune to reexamine [Page 1337] the present policy of not granting official recognition to any Bulgarian exile group.
The Communist appeal to Macedonian nationalism is an integral part of the Bulgarian cold war against Yugoslavia and Greece. The exact Communist objective has never been clearly stated, but the potential problems inherent in any revival of the Macedonian issue deserve our careful attention. The US position toward any Soviet efforts to create an “independent” Macedonia will necessarily depend upon the circumstances and scope of such endeavors and should take account of our interest in the integrity of Greece and the preservation of Yugoslavia as a valuable bulwark against Soviet imperialist aspirations.

  1. Department of State Policy Statements were concise summaries of current U.S. policy toward a country or region, relations of that country or region with the principal powers, and the issues and trends in that country or region. The statements, which were generally prepared by ad hoc working groups in the responsible offices of the Department of State and were periodically revised, provided information and guidance for officers in missions abroad.
  2. For documentation on the events leading to the severance of diplomatic relations between the United States and Bulgaria, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. v, pp. 326 ff. and ibid., 1950, vol. iv, pp. 503 ff.
  3. Regarding U.S. efforts to achieve fulfillment of the articles of the Treaties of Peace with Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania, see Documents 600 ff.
  4. See Document 634.
  5. Regarding U.S. civil aviation policy toward the Soviet Union and its satellites, see Documents 616, 633, and 641.
  6. For documentation on U.S. participation in the Belgrade Conference on the Regime for Free Navigation of the Danube River, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. iv, pp. 593 ff.