31. Draft Paper Prepared by N. Spencer Barnes of the Policy Planning Staff0
CONSIDERATIONS OF POLICY TOWARD ALBANIA AND BULGARIA1
Albania and Bulgaria have the following basic characteristics in common, all of which apply with considerably more strength to the former than to the latter:
Among Eastern European countries under Soviet domination they are the least advanced economically and culturally, smallest in terms of population, most remote from the center of Soviet power and most “Stalinist” in regime attitudes. They are not occupied by Soviet troop units, and both have a background of territorial and other disputes with their neighbors. Neither maintains diplomatic relations with the United States.[Page 72]
Recent developments have indicated a relatively high degree of stability in regime leadership, and of consistency in subservience to Moscow. Widespread popular dissatisfaction exists, but passive and evidently somewhat less acute than in the more advanced satellites. A slight improvement has been noted recently in a chronically unsatisfactory economic situation.
United States policy toward these countries will by definition be that of policy vis-à-vis the satellite bloc. Policy objectives can be effectively pursued only through resumption of diplomatic relations. While minor adverse repercussions might conceivably follow such resumption, it would be unrealistic to determine courses of action vis-à-vis Albania and Bulgaria, not by policy toward Eastern Europe in general and these countries in particular, but instead by policy toward more remote areas. To delay taking steps toward recognition because of a series of “temporary situations” in other parts of the globe would be equivalent to nullifying a decision to take these steps.
Following resumption of diplomatic relations, courses of action should parallel those toward the satellite areas as a whole, but with special emphasis on promoting better relations with adjoining countries not under Soviet domination and on breaking down the barriers to contact with and influence from the free world.
B. General Considerations
1. Underlying Factors Applying to Both Countries
Albania and Bulgaria, despite the considerable differences between the two, have certain common features which distinguish them from the other Soviet satellites:
Geographically, neither has a common border with the Soviet Union—a situation enjoyed elsewhere in the Bloc only by East Germany, and there more than compensated for by military occupation. Neither of the two states adjoining Albania, and only one of the four adjoining Bulgaria, are under Soviet domination. In addition, there are no Soviet military units as such in these two countries—though many Soviet “advisors”. Czechoslovakia shares the latter privilege, but in contrast is largely surrounded by Soviet power.
Economically, culturally and in terms of population these countries are the smallest and most backward in the bloc, with Albania’s population about 80% and Bulgaria’s about two-thirds peasant. Their economies depend to an appreciable extent on credits from the USSR. Both have a long record, extending to date, of exacerbated political relations with their non-satellite neighbors. The Albanian Government and its people have feared dismemberment from Yugoslavia, Greece and Italy, and the fear is still active with respect to the former two. The Albanian [Page 73] Moslem minority in Yugoslavia is an added source of friction. Bulgaria’s relations with Yugoslavia have been cool, particularly since failure of the South Slav Federation concept in 1948, and the Macedonian question has been a persisting source of aggravation. Bulgaria also has a background of territorial disputes with Greece and Turkey, though these issues are not active at present.
In both countries the local Communist regimes appear unusually firmly entrenched. Albania paid little more than lip-service to de-Stalinization following the Soviet XXth Party Congress. Bulgaria has gone farther with agricultural collectivization than any other satellite. In turn, both regimes have been extremely close and consistent followers of policies made in Moscow. While popular dissatisfaction has been reported, it is probably less intense than in the more advanced satellites which have stronger traditional ties with Western Europe. Bulgaria’s historical friendship with Russia is also a factor in this connection.
Thus in respect to both regimes and peoples, tendencies toward independence or antagonism toward the USSR are intrinsically weaker than in other satellites, and to some extent offset by unsatisfactory relations with their nearer neighbors. Nevertheless, these tendencies exist as a potential; and in neither country are armed forces considered entirely reliable—except for security troops—although they would probably resist aggression from any Balkan source.
From the standpoint of relations with the United States, Albania and Bulgaria are the only two integral states in Europe (excluding East Germany) which have no diplomatic ties with this country. The United States has had an informal diplomatic mission in Albania for only one and a half years, and a Legation in Bulgaria for two and a half years only, out of the last nineteen.2
2. Underlying Factors Differentiating the Two Countries.
Most of the common characteristics listed above apply with considerably more force to Albania than to Bulgaria. The former is a good deal smaller and less populous, more backward in every way, more isolated geographically from Moscow, more Stalinist and on worse terms with its neighbors. Ethnically, the Albanian people are different from the neighboring Greek and Slavic peoples, while the Bulgarians are predominantly Slavic. In consequence there is an anti-Russian bias with the Albanian which is largely absent with the Bulgarian. The Albanians are about 70% Moslem, 20% Orthodox and 10% Eastern Orthodox in religion. [Page 74] Religion is thus a stronger potential force in Bulgaria, though the Church is largely state-controlled.
3. Current Developments
The political situation in Albania has remained relatively stable in recent years. Occasional reports of dissension in the top leadership have not been substantiated, and if they exist have been efficiently sublimated. It appears that Party First Secretary Enver Hoxha and Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu, at the head of the nine-member Politburo of the Albanian Workers’ Party, have enjoyed an effective concentration of power since shortly after the 1948 decision to take Moscow’s rather than Belgrade’s cue. This decision evidently prompted both by the expectation that Tito’s regime would fail to weather the Kremlin’s displeasure, and by local resentment over Yugoslav domination, was followed by extended purges as the presently ruling clique consolidated power. Moreover, though on a lesser scale, purges have continued practically to date and pro-Tito elements have not been rehabilitated. Two Party founders and ex-Politburo members, Jakova and Spahim, were purged in 1955 for pro-Tito activities; Madame Gega, also a former Politburo member, and her husband General Ndreu, a World War partisan hero, were executed in 1956; General Plaku, former Deputy Minister of Defense, fled to Yugoslavia in 1957; and a group of army officers were arrested last February.
The ruling clique has continued to follow Moscow closely in both internal and foreign policy. It has in fact leaned over backward in the direction of Communist orthodoxy. No appreciable relaxation of police pressures has been observed and the amnesty decree of November 1957 excluded political prisoners.3 De-Stalinization and collective leadership were honored by little more than the surface gesture of Hoxha’s relinquishing the premiership to Shehu, and Albania has lagged in implementing the Kremlin-inspired move to “normalize” relations with Yugoslavia. A sort of pendulum movement has been noted in the latter area, protestations of a desire for better relations and minor gestures of implementation alternating with renewed recrimination and moves calculated to increase tension. For examples of the latter, a brochure by Hoxha in September of 1957 repeated the old charges against Tito, and the Yugoslav Minister in Tirana recently absented himself for a considerable period in protest against harassment of his Legation. No genuine good will has been observed on either side, and most recent signs have pointed toward exacerbation rather than reconciliation. At the same [Page 75] time, soundings have been taken on resuming diplomatic relations with both Greece and Turkey, with success recently reported in the latter case and accompanied in the former by such moves of cooperation as mine-sweeping in the Corfu Channel. The Rumanian initiative of 1957 of Balkan cooperation was favorably received,4 and an Italian-Albanian reparations agreement was concluded in July, 1957. Efforts to deal directly with British and American authorities in connection with forced plane landings also appear to be feelers in the direction of broadened contacts. Attempts to use the Moslem tradition to propagandize Arab states have been intensified in the last few months.
The Albanian economy has continued to limp along, achieving a kind of semi-viability largely through Soviet assistance. It has been estimated that the Soviet bloc countries have been giving Albania a subsidy of some $15 to $20 million annually, largely in grants but partly in long-term loans. In April of 1957 Moscow canceled a debt of $105 million contracted before 1956, and granted a foodstuffs credit of $7 million. East Germany has both extended credits and canceled debts, and other bloc nations have shown financial generosity. More recently a Soviet grant of $40 million for increasing mining, agricultural and food production, plus a good crop year and new discoveries of oil, contributed to the decision to deration foodstuffs (clothes and shoes were derationed in 1956) and to expand economic plan goals pointed at attaining greater economic self-sufficiency. Substantial quantities of agricultural machinery were imported from the USSR last year. The planned budget for 1958 is some 60% over 1957, which probably reflects a kind of hidden inflation resulting from higher wages, pensions, etc., as well as Soviet bloc credits and intensive development of the mineral industry. Foreign trade has been very largely with the bloc since the war.
The standard of living has remained the lowest in the Balkens, despite a slight improvement in recent months; and it is believed the derationing move, while helping the peasants, hurt the urban worker. Agricultural collectivization has been pushed more intensively since 1955, with about 60% of the arable land now collectivized as against 40% then, and a 1960 planned goal of 85%. Partly on this account, but probably more as protest against regimentation and repressive police activities, the latent but widespread dissatisfaction with the regime has persisted, extending even into Party ranks. Party members are now [Page 76] counted at about 48,000 (3.5% of the population) but of these the majority are opportunists rather than members of conviction. There seem to have been no signs of active resistance to the regime since 1953, however, probably largely due to decreased Yugoslav support.
The Bulgarian regime has to date followed Moscow’s lead on international issues, and Moscow’s example in internal affairs, very closely. While not showing the resistance of Albania to “de-Stalinization,” it has tended to go more slowly in any moves toward liberalization, to re-intensify police severity more quickly when excuse offered, and to lag somewhat behind in “normalizing” relations with Yugoslavia, than the other satellites. Relative stability has been maintained within the top Party and Government leadership, although minor shifts have taken place.
Bulgaria showed a certain reflection of the Soviet XXth Party Congress line in 1956, with a few political prisoners released, espousal of collective leadership voiced and the rehabilitation of some so-called “Titoists”. Premier Chervenkov, a conspicuous Stalinist, relinquished his position to Anton Yugov.5 Security measures were quickly tightened again, however, after the Hungarian Revolution, and some labor camps, previously closed, were reopened. A purge of unreliable party elements took place at this time and later in the first months of 1958. Several thousand residents of Sofia were expelled from the city, presumably partly on security and partly on economic grounds. Following the Molotov–Malenkov–Kaganovich ouster in July of 1957, a shakeup eliminated one Politburo and two Central Committee members. These men, however, were if anything more liberal than Stalinist, and their replacements were identified with the “hard line”. The conclusion is thus indicated that the occasion offered an opportunity to eliminate pockets of potential opposition in the name of Party unity, rather than to change the complexion of regime policies. During the post-July period Chervenkov again faded into obscurity for a short while but began to re-assume prominence in the fall. Meanwhile, Tudor Zhivkov as Party First Secretary, and Anton Yugov as Premier, appear to have retained effective control of the Party and Government apparatus.
Relations with Yugoslavia have been oscillating, deteriorating early in 1957 and showing some relaxation later in the year. Various surface measures to improve relations have alternated with intensified ideological disputes. These have generally been directed against revisionism [Page 77] from the Bulgarian side and dogmatism from the Yugoslavs, with periodic mutual recriminations over Macedonia. No great friendliness has appeared on either side, although antagonisms have been less pronounced than between Belgrade and Tirana. Relations with both Greece and Turkey have been rather cool, despite the fact that Sofia periodically voices an ostensible desire for improvement. In the former case inability to agree on reparations has been a bar to closer cooperation; Greek demands and Bulgarian offers have come closer together, in the neighborhood of $4–5 million, but have not yet met. Negotiations on the return of ethnic Turks to Turkey were recently opened. Bulgaria also came out strongly for the Rumanian proposal on Balkan collaboration in September of 1957, and in fact Premier Yugov had espoused similar ideas early in the year. Several indirect démarches have been made toward resuming diplomatic relations with the US. One obstacle has been an apparent unwillingness to retract or apologize for the charges directed against Minister Heath. However, an unofficial report has quoted Foreign Office officials as stating that this would not be an insuperable barrier.
While there have been no signs of active resistance to the regime, there is little doubt that latent opposition and a good deal of mild, passive resistance still exists. One of the few noticeable effects has been the behavior of Bulgarian writers—something reminiscent, though on a much smaller scale, of the situation in Hungary in late 1955 and 1956. Criticism of several well-known writers, from high Party sources, based on divergence from the Party line, was followed by dismissals from literary organs when the accused refused to recant. This ferment continued during late 1957 and early 1958. By now the regime appears to have re-established effective control, though it may be assumed the spirit of opposition has by no means died out.
The economic situation, while never good, has shown some improvement in recent months. Plan targets are said to be generally over-fulfilled and 1957 was an excellent crop year. Since early 1956 the regime has attempted to make life easier for the consumer, with wage and pension increases, some liberalization in the labor code and abolition of compulsory agricultural deliveries in certain areas. The recently announced Plan for 1958–1962 still gives major emphasis to heavy industry, however, and unemployment continues to plague the economy. The unemployed number about 10% of the non-agricultural labor force. As one move to combat this situation, about 15,000 workers were recruited last year for work in the Soviet Union, and about 4,000 in Czechoslovakia. Some of them have returned, reportedly unenthusiastic over conditions they found. Bulgaria has received considerable economic aid from the USSR; and it was stated that three loans aggregating 570 million [Page 78] rubles had been granted since early 1956. Foreign trade is almost 90% with the Soviet bloc and nearly half with the USSR.
C. Policy Objectives
Major US policy objectives toward Albania and Bulgaria will be the same as toward the satellite area as a whole, namely:
- Long-range: Fulfillment of the right of the peoples in the two countries to enjoy representative governments which rest on the consent of the governed, exercise full national independence and participate as peaceful members of the Free World community.
- Short-range: The peaceful evolution of these countries, first toward national independence and secondly toward internal freedoms.
D. Courses of Action
1. Courses Common to Both Countries
It is obvious that active promotion of policy objectives listed will be severely handicapped as long as diplomatic recognition is not accorded. Some influence may perhaps be exerted through media, in particular broadcasting, or indirectly through diplomatic representations of friendly countries. But this will be minimal. While it is true that the presence of US diplomatic missions is unlikely to exert a determinant influence on Albanian or Bulgarian developments, it seems clear that it is the only channel which can be appreciably effective. In all other Soviet-dominated areas a conscious decision has been taken to maintain diplomatic relations; and the same arguments would seem to hold for Albania and Bulgaria—perhaps even a bit more strongly due to the wider separation of these areas from the center of Soviet power. In support of this view the following reasoning may be advanced: The satellites in Eastern Europe certainly represent the softest spots in the armor of Soviet hegemony. Soviet apprehension over this area is expressed constantly. Yugoslavia has proven independence possible for an ex-satellite. Poland has shown that it is possible for even a Soviet-occupied satellite to take steps toward independence. As time goes on this trend can go further, could encompass Albania and Bulgaria. An American Legation in Sofia or Tirana would offer at least some opportunities for assisting the trend, as well as producing useful information which we do not now have. In addition to such practical advantages, the symbolism involved in diplomatic recognition can easily be, and very easily be presented as, that of American and Western interest and influence expanding into Eastern Europe rather than that of US acquiescence in Soviet colonialism. We now have missions in Rumania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and no one is deluded thereby into thinking the US approves of Soviet domination.[Page 79]
On the other hand, certain arguments are sometimes advanced against recognition. For examples:
- It will be unpopular with the peoples of these countries, who are basically anti-regime, due to the connotation of greater respectability for the governments. This theory, however, runs counter to deductions based on experience in other satellites, namely that the peoples suffer no illusions as to US attitudes but do welcome the physical presence of US representation.
- It may create an impression in certain third countries, particularly in Latin America, that the US is inconsistent in recognizing Soviet-dominated regimes while urging resistance to Soviet penetration in other countries. But here, in the first place, it seems doubtful that the effects of recognition would be much greater than present effects of recognizing other satellites. In the second, it is doubtful whether the precedent would in fact be a determinant factor in influencing any Latin American state’s recognition of the USSR or its satellites, since other considerations would probably be overriding. In the third place it is also doubtful whether the fact of such recognition would represent very great aid to pro-communist elements in areas far removed from the locus of Soviet power, in view of the fact that Soviet diplomatic representation has produced few converts in areas much closer to the USSR. Furthermore, even if there should be slight marginal repercussions, the notion that US courses of action toward Albania or Bulgaria should be determined, not primarily by US policy toward Albania or Bulgaria but rather by US policy toward other more distant areas, appears quaintly unrealistic. US policy toward Eastern Europe as a whole, and toward these two countries in particular, should certainly be a more logical determinant of US action toward the countries concerned than should US policy toward South America or East Asia. In addition, once the decision has been made in principle, it would appear unwise to permit implementation to be successively delayed by a series of “temporary” situations in other parts of the world. There will always be such “temporary” situations somewhere; and allowing them to delay implementation of a determined policy would be equivalent to sabotaging the policy.
- The record of past harassment does not argue well for the future of US Missions in these countries. Harassment, however, in one degree or another, has been chronic in iron curtain posts; and it may be presumed that, if the regimes in question desire to resume relations, they will not go unusually far out of their way to undermine the result once achieved. Nevertheless, some satisfactory assurances that US Missions will be permitted to carry out their normal functions should be a precondition to recognition.
- Following diplomatic recognition, courses of action should be
similar to those regional courses laid down as current policy
directions, and include:
- Encouragement of any tendencies toward nationalism, independence or liberalism, with appropriate exploitation of the Yugoslav and Polish example.
- As an almost equally important action target, the promotion of better relations with Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey. Closer relations [Page 80] with immediate neighbors should tend to act as a counterpoise to Soviet influence.
- Efforts to re-orient trade patterns toward Western trading partners, with elimination of obstacles to normal trade relationships. Economic aid might be considered at some later date, but this should probably be held in reserve and used if at all only following tangible evidence of increased independence rather than in advance as an inducement.
- Gradual expansion of other contacts of all kinds—cultural, informational, exchange and tourist.
- Avoidance of premature efforts to stimulate dissidence or disorder, or to stir up populations against regimes. This should emanate naturally from a recognition of the fact that evolution toward national independence is possible, whereas violent attempts to change the internal status quo would probably bring Soviet repression.
- Efforts to coordinate policies toward these countries within NATO.
- Discreet encouragement of elements whose first loyalty is to Sofia or Tirana rather than to Moscow, particularly in connection with any tendency on their part to reduce Soviet influence gradually.
- Efforts to promote internal liberalization, and to gain Albanian and Bulgarian support of other US aims, but only subject to higher priority objectives and to the extent unlikely to provoke Soviet repression.
2. Courses Vis-à-vis Albania
- With Albania, the formal reason for not re-establishing full relations after the war was the Albanian unwillingness to recognize the validity of certain pre-war treaties with the US. The more important reason, however, appears to have been the generally antagonistic attitude of the regime and its expression in harassment of the US Mission. Assuming the Albanian desire to resume relations at present is genuine, the formal obstacle would presumably not be difficult to overcome, and the question of harassment has been treated above.
- Following resumption of relations, concentration of effort would
appear desirable on:
- Cooperating with other Western missions in counteracting Albania’s long isolation from the non-Soviet world.
- Exerting influence, in both capitals, toward settling the Greek-Albanian dispute over Northern Epirus.
- Promoting a more satisfactory modus vivendi with Yugoslavia, in particular in respect to the relationship of the Albanian Government and the Albanian minority in Yugoslavia.
- Encouraging Albanian-Italian rapprochement.
- Promoting closer relations with Turkey, based to some degree on religious affinity.
- Encouraging an attitude of independence through emphasis on the racial and religious differences between Albania and a Slavic and atheistic USSR.
3. Courses Vis-à-Vis Bulgaria
- In respect to Bulgaria, the circumstances under which diplomatic relations were broken off in 1950 have represented a bar to recognition. However, since the Bulgarian Government has indicated a desire to resume diplomatic relations with the US, it is reasonable to suppose that a way around this road-block may be found. Retraction of charges made against the US Minister at the time, an apology, or some formula which carried the essence of retraction while avoiding too much loss of face through self-repudiation, appears not improbable.
- Following assumption of diplomatic relations, concentration of
effort would appear desirable on:
- Encouraging better relations with Yugoslavia, based on proximity, race and tradition, and promoting any tendency to follow Yugoslavia’s example.
- Encouraging improved relations with Greece and Turkey, including the settlement of such problems as that of the ethnic Turks in Bulgaria and the reparations dispute with Greece, and also maximum exploitation of the religious affinity with the latter.
- Encouraging nationalism, in particular through stressing the Polish example of relative Soviet restraint toward semi-independence.
- Source: Department of State, PPS Files: Lot 67 D 548, Europe (East). Confidential. This draft paper was apparently discussed at the Policy Planning Staff meeting on May 25; see footnote 1 below and Part 1, Document 1, footnote 1. Discussion at the August 25, 1957, Policy Planning Staff meeting focused on how the views and recommendations of the Policy Planning Staff on long-range foreign policy could best be presented. It was decided that a series of fairly brief, cleared staff papers should be prepared on major fields of policy for wider distribution. This is presumably one of those papers. A copy of the minutes of the August 25 meeting is in Department of State, PPS Files: Lot 70 D 190, Minutes of Meetings.↩
- This paper is intended as a supplement to the paper dated November 7, 1957 and entitled: “Considerations of US Policy Toward the Communist States in Eastern Europe Exclusive of the USSR.” [Footnote in the source text. The November 7, 1957, draft paper, also drafted by Barnes, and a June 27, 1958, draft paper by Barnes entitled “Long-Term Trends in the Soviet European Satellites” were combined and condensed by him to produce the revised paper, “Policy Toward the Communist States of Eastern Europe Exclusive of the USSR” dated August 26, 1958. The June 27 and August 6 papers are printed in Part 1, Documents 9 and 11.]↩
- Charges of espionage and interference with internal Bulgarian affairs were made against the Minister in Sofia, Donald R. Heath, by the Bulgarian Government and led to the suspension of U.S.-Bulgarian relations on February 20, 1950. See footnote 1, Document 39.↩
- On November 28, 1957, Albania amnestied minor non-political offenders in prison except those arrested for theft.↩
- Romanian leaders, in their talks with Bulgarian Party leaders in Sofia March 28–April 4, 1957, stressed the necessity for bloc unity. Both countries proclaimed that peaceful coexistence was the basis of their foreign policies and called for consolidation of economic, political, and cultural cooperation among the Balkan states of Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece, and Turkey. Documentation on this question is in Department of State, Central File 760.00.↩
- Vulko Chervenkov was leader of the Communist Party of Bulgaria 1949–1954, when he was succeeded by Todor Zhivkov, and was Premier of Bulgaria January 23, 1950–April 17, 1956, when he was succeeded by Anton Yugov.↩