185. Telegram From the Embassy in Yugoslavia to the Department of State1
146. 1. During meeting with FonMin Nikezic yesterday, I raised question of our bilateral relations. In much the same vein as conversation with Amb Crnobrnja day before (Belgrade’s 140)2 I referred to atmosphere of mistrust and apprehension which seemed to permeate Yugoslav officialdom and press and increasing tendency to regard USG as deus ex machina responsible for world events which seem to have raised so much alarm here. USG had shown in many ways its desire to maintain good relations with Yugoslavia and I was constantly being assured here that GOY was similarly interested in good relations. Repetition of charges re “US aggression” and “US imperialism” in official utterances and press, however, could hardly advance this objective. I pointed to history of US-Yugoslav relations since 1948 which should have convinced Yugoslavs of sincerity of our intentions. US public cannot fail to be aware [Page 498] of present Yugoslav attitude toward US and this in turn could affect whole scale of our relations.
2. Nicezic said that many factors were involved in formulation of public and official opinion which in turn affect conduct of foreign policy. He was fully aware of points I had made and said FonOff frequently found itself in position of trying to moderate government’s views in much the same way as State Dept is required to do from time to time. Recent events in world, culminating in Greek coup d’etat and ME crisis had alarmed many people in Yugoslavia, however, and caused conclusions to be drawn which may or may not be fully justified. He spoke about Greece particularly, noting that new Greek Govt is noisily anti-Communist and has indulged in various actions which would not indicate any desire to maintain good relations with Yugoslavia. GOY on other hand wished to maintain good relations with all neighboring states. It is assumed here therefore that for reasons intimately connected with its effort to remain in power Greek Govt deliberately fosters illusion of threat from Communist neighbors. Over and above this there is some reason to suspect that Greece might have designs on Albania which, of course, would be of vital interest to Yugoslavia. I tried to dissuade him from this line of thinking, observing that preoccupation with internal affairs should make it obvious that Greece is in no position or mood to carry out foolhardy military adventures.
3. Nikezic was very affable and frank throughout our conversation. He said present atmosphere which I had commented on and which he also deplored as affecting adversely relations with the US would doubtless begin to be dispelled with settlement of Middle Eastern problem. He expressed an interest in seeing me again before I leave for Washington and before he departs on a month’s holiday.