115. Telegram From the Embassy in Yugoslavia to the Department of State0

972. Lunched this noon alone with Foreign Minister Koca Popovic and had long and frank discussion problems of Yugoslav-US relations. Highlights as follows:

1.

Yugoslav-Soviet relations. Popovic said it was his conviction Yugoslav-US relations were actually much better than they appeared on surface to be; Yugoslav-Soviet relations, on other hand, much worse. Split of 1948 had run deeper than most of us in West realized. Never had chances for complete understanding between Yugoslavia and USSR been poorer than today. As example of Western misreading this situation he cited Sulzberger story of rumored Soviet-Yugoslav deal over Albania and said this reflected fantastic misunderstanding real nature Yugoslav-Albanian relations. He inferred any such thing was far beyond realm of political possibility. On my reminding him of abundant evidence of Yugoslav concern for Soviet opinion and on emotional involvement of leading Yugoslavs with affairs of Socialist world, he said this represented form of pro-Russian romanticism which had both traditional and more recently political roots, which was a passing phenomenon and not in accord basic trends Yugoslav society, by which we should not be misled. As Socialists they had to regard Russian revolution and subsequent emergence of bloc of Socialist countries as something which, whether or not fortuitous in origin, was now permanent fact of international life. They were more concerned than we were with what occurred within this bloc, regarded Soviet Communism as preferable to Chinese and Khrushchev as preferable to other Russian Communists. Within their possibilities, they acted accordingly.

With obvious but not specific reference Tito’s recent statements, he pleaded that we not attach long-term significance to things said within context of a specific moment and for achievement of momentary effect. He had recently had bitter arguments with Yugoslav editors over their tendency to make this same mistake.

2.
Germany. He agreed readily that Yugoslav press had recently been guilty of much extremism in treatment German problems. German press reaction to Vracaric case1 had actually contained many positive items [but?] Yugoslav press had failed to mention them. For this, too, he [Page 251]had taken editors to task, pointing out by this tendentious treatment they were encouraging precisely those tendencies they feared in Western Germany. He thought the truth lay somewhere between Yugoslav exaggeration dangers German militarism and our underestimation of it. He spoke so eloquently of folly of Yugoslavia’s attempting to take upon herself task of combatting nationalistic trends in Germany that I suspect he was personally responsible for recent change Yugoslav press line this subject. In this connection he mentioned particularly damage to German tourist traffic in Yugoslavia and other economic exchanges resulting from Yugoslav polemics.
3.
Ustashi activities. I confessed my own chagrin over activities Ustashi and other violent elements in US interested in embarrassing Yugoslav-US relations and explained to him difficulties we had in controlling this problem. He said while he would personally place this perhaps 17th on list of US-Yugoslav difficulties there were many others who would place it much higher and I was right to give it importance. Since he mentioned Artukovic, I said I could not conceive that Yugoslavia wanted an Eichmann case of its own at this moment, or that US-Yugoslav relations would be benefited by Artukovic’s forced return to Yugoslavia. To this he readily assented, said we would notice Yugoslavs had refrained from exploiting Eichmann trial in this connection. However, Artukovic would continue for long to rankle in many Yugoslav minds. Some people would never understand how we could harbor such a person if we ourselves wished well to Yugoslavia. He added incidentally there were now evidences of Ustashi infiltration in French OAS as well as other European neo-Fascist activities.
4.
Colonialism. On this subject we were farthest from agreement. In response my statement we would prefer to see more use self-determination of principle governing liquidation Colonialism, he said this would lead to impossible fragmentation of Africa and other areas. World had no choice but to create boundaries artificially and encourage formation larger national units.
5.
Cold war. He viewing emotional preoccupations of Soviet-American conflict as principal source of difficulty for US-Yugoslav relations, since they lead to grievous oversimplification of extremely complex Yugoslav position. Cold war interfered this way not only in our relations, but also in Yugoslavia’s relations with USSR.

Earnestly request this information be tightly held and Popovic’s name protected, since he talked with much frankness and these statements could easily be used to affect adversely his personal and political position.

Kennan
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.68/1–562. Secret.
  2. In November 1961, West German authorities arrested Yugoslav businessman L. Varcaric in Munich for the killing of two German soldiers during World War II. Less than a week later, Varcaric was released amidst protests from the Yugoslav government.