30. Operations Coordinating Board Report0

EUROPE (NSC 5811/1)

(Approved by the President May 24, 1958)

(Period Covered: July 15, 1959 through July 27, 1960)

I. General Evaluation

1. The Soviet Union has continued to maintain varying degrees of discipline over the Communist Parties within the Bloc and has supported the Bloc regimes in their repression of all dissent. Despite these efforts at consolidation, however, certain factors of instability have reflected continuing Soviet vulnerabilities in the dominated nations and have afforded opportunities for the United States, particularly on a long-term basis, to make some progress toward its policy objectives. These factors include the deep antipathy to Soviet Communism; the disturbing influence upon the Soviet bloc of the Yugoslav ideological heresy and of Yugoslavia’s example of successful independence; the manifestations of limited liberalization in Poland; the persisting inability of the Bloc regimes to establish a broad base of popular support; and the general problem still faced by these regimes of satisfying consumer demands while pursuing major economic development objectives. Although it is too early at this time to assess the full import of ideological differences between the Soviet Union and Communist China, the development of such differences to any serious extent may give rise to contention within the Communist parties and regimes and ultimately have an a [Page 119] dverse effect upon the unity of the Bloc. Such a development would add to Soviet vulnerabilities and afford new opportunities for the U.S. to exploit the situation.

2. It has remained the basic problem of U.S. policy in the area to nurture the aspirations of the dominated peoples for national independence and human freedom and to find effective means for promoting peaceful evolution toward these goals. Our approach to this problem has necessarily involved carefully coordinated efforts in two directions: on the one hand, we have continued as a matter of basic principle to make it clear that we do not accept the status quo of Soviet domination over the nations of Eastern Europe as a permanent condition and that we support the right of the dominated peoples to national independence and to governments of their own free choosing; on the other hand, we have sought to expand our direct contacts with the dominated peoples, particularly in the cultural, information, economic and technical fields, as a means of exerting greater U.S. influence upon future developments in these countries.

3. Such interchanges can take place and be developed only with the acquiescence of the existing regime in each dominated country. We have accordingly entered into more active relations with the Bloc regimes for this purpose wherever conditions have permitted. Exchanges with the dominated countries have raised some problems of reciprocity. It is important, therefore, that the United States enlist appropriate facilities, develop procedures, and provide adequate support as may be required by considerations of reciprocity. During the past year encouraging, though still limited, progress has been made in expanding contacts and developing more active relations with certain of the dominated nations. Another means of reaching directly the people of the dominated areas has been international broadcasting. While U.S. foreign-language broadcasts, officially and privately sponsored, are heavily jammed in urban areas, they can be heard in suburban rural areas. English-language and music programs are not jammed.

4. Khrushchev’s tactics of contacts and negotiations with the United States and Western Europe during most of the past year have served to encourage varying degrees of interest on the part of the Bloc regimes in more active relations with these same countries. Whether these more favorable conditions for intercourse with the dominated nations will continue to exist indefinitely in the aftermath of the collapse of the recent Summit Conference1 cannot clearly be foreseen. For the pres-ent, however, there has been no adverse change with respect to prospects for the development of exchanges.

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5. The expansion of U.S. contacts with the dominated countries, by creating a continuity of interest and demonstrating the benefits to be derived from such associations, may serve to place the Bloc regimes under popular pressure, as well as pressure from certain elements within the bureaucracy itself who favor expanded contacts with the West, to progressively enlarge the volume and the areas of such interchange.

6. While endeavoring to establish more active relations with the Bloc regimes as a means of facilitating contacts with the peoples of the dominated countries, it will continue to be necessary, on appropriate occasions, to articulate our policy in support of the right of those peoples to independence and freedom and to expose and condemn, as the facts may warrant, the fundamental evils and defects of the Soviet Communist system. It is essential, however, that our efforts along this line should be carefully timed and judicious in character. We must take due care that we do not, by purely negative actions, impair our positive efforts to develop broader contacts with the dominated peoples and to project our influence through such contacts for the advancement of our long-term policy objectives.

7. It is clear that any progress in stimulating evolutionary forces within the dominated nations will be dependent to an important degree upon our success in strengthening our own democratic institutions, economic well-being and military power and those of our Allies and friends as well as upon the contributions we are able to make toward the just resolution of international issues which vitally affect the entire world. It is evident from our past experience and from the very nature of problems that confront us in Eastern Europe that programs for advancing our objectives with respect to the dominated countries must be conceived on a long-term basis and evaluated with due understanding of this time factor.

II. Country Evaluations


8. We do not recognize and do not have diplomatic relations with the Albanian regime. Consequently, there has been no progress toward the achievement of our objectives with respect to Albania, and there is unlikely to be any until such time as the Albanian regime undertakes some clear-cut initiative seeking recognition and the establishment of diplomatic relations. The relaxation of restrictions on travel by U.S. citizens to Albania has resulted in some travel there for business, professional and compassionate reasons. This has had some constructive effect in that it has enabled Albanian-Americans to see at first hand what conditions are really like in Albania.

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9. The American Legation in Sofia was opened on March 14, 1960 and is now fully operative. The general atmosphere which has thus far prevailed in U.S.-Bulgarian relations has been favorable. The Bulgarian Minister in Washington has indicated his Government’s interest in entering upon discussions in due course of various matters including financial claims, trade, and cultural exchanges. The United States has taken advantage of the invitation extended to it by the Bulgarian Government to take part in the 19th Plovdiv International Fair (September 18–October 2, 1960).


10. Little progress has been made toward the achievement of U.S. policy objectives in Czechoslovakia. The economic negotiations begun in October 1955 are continuing, however, and there is still some hope that these may be brought to a successful conclusion. Some improvement of relations, which would afford opportunities for more active contacts, might well follow upon an agreement in this field. In the meantime, we have been able to conduct limited but varied information and cultural activities among certain Czechoslovak groups through our Embassy, though harassments of the Embassy staff and of their Czecho-slovak contacts are a continuing handicap.


11. There has been no substantial change in U.S. relations with Hungary, which remain strained. The Hungarian regime has persisted in its refusal to cooperate with UN efforts to deal with problems arising from the 1956 revolution. The declaration of a partial amnesty in Hungary on March 31, 1960, along with fewer reports in recent months of secret trials and executions in Hungary, affords some measure of hope that the regime may abandon the active campaign of reprisals which it has hitherto carried out against those who participated in the national uprising. There is little prospect, however, that U.S. policy can be applied with any effectiveness in Hungary until there is clear evidence that the Hungarian regime has ameliorated its policy of internal repression and modified its defiant attitude toward the United Nations. U.S. passport restrictions on travel by American citizens to Hungary were lifted on April 29, 1960.2 This action will serve to facilitate and encourage private contacts by Americans with Hungarians in many fields.

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12. Substantial progress has been made in the past year in U.S.-Rumanian relations. Following negotiations begun on Rumanian initiative, an agreement settling U.S. financial claims against Rumania was reached on March 30, 1960.3 Subsequently, talks have also taken place and are continuing with the Rumanian Government on cultural and technical exchanges. Prospects appear favorable at this time for concluding arrangements in this field which may serve to provide the United States with modest opportunities for advancing its policy objectives with respect to Rumania.

III. Policy Review

13. From the point of view of operations, no review of policy is recommended. To conform with NSC Action 2215-c,4 editorial updating of the “General Considerations” portion and other pertinent sections of NSC 5811/1 is required. (For example, relations with Bulgaria have been resumed since the policy paper was approved.)

  1. Source: Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 61 D 385, USSR & Satellites—Documents—1959–60. Secret. According to an undated covering memorandum by OCB Executive Officer Bromley Smith, the report was concurred in by the Board, after some revisions, at its meeting of July 27, and was transmitted to the NSC Planning Board. Smith also said that the Planning Board noted the report at its August 16 meeting and decided that the Department of State should prepare a revision of NSC 5811/1 (Document 6). See Document 32.

    According to O’Connor’s July 27 memorandum to Kohler, in which he quoted from the informal notes of the OCB meeting that day, Sherer told the OCB that although there was no prospect of any dramatic progress toward national independence in Eastern Europe, there had been a few encouraging developments in U.S. relations with Bulgaria and Romania. The members discussed the relative military power of the United States and Soviet Union and “agreed that it would be a misinterpretation of the Report if a reader should conclude therefrom that the evolutionary policy of the US for the area was founded on a judgment that in military power the US and USSR were at parity.” (Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 61 D 385, USSR & Satellites—General—1959–60)

  2. Reference is to the collapse of the Paris summit conference in May 1960.
  3. For text of the Department of State press release of April 29 announcing the lifting of the travel restrictions to Hungary, see Department of State Bulletin, May 16, 1960, p. 797.
  4. For text of the agreement, as well as texts of letters exchanged on March 30, 1960, by the two governments and the Department of State’s two press releases of that date regarding the agreement, see ibid., April 25, 1960, pp. 670–673.
  5. See Document 32.