373. Telegram From the Embassy in Bulgaria to the Department of State1



  • BTA Declaration: Arms, Narcotics and Antonov.


  • [less than 1 line not declassified]2
(C) Action Requested: We would appreciate any information Department and appropriate Embassies can develop on the background of a May 3 BTA declaration.
(C) Summary: On May 3 BTA issued a declaration attacking recent Western media reports alleging Bulgarian involvement in the narcotics and arms trade and denying any involvement. BTA blames the United States for this campaign. As reported septel3 (Notal) Deputy Foreign Minister Gotsev also protested the reports. End summary.
(U) All local media evening of May 3 and morning of May 4 carried a BTA declaration on Western press reports of Bulgarian involvement in the international trade in narcotics and illegal arms. We assume the full text of declaration will be carried by FBIS but highlights include the following:
CBS and Danish television have conducted an investigation which was reported in the British paper The Observer on April 29 [Page 1195] alleging Bulgarian foreign trade organizations have been involved in the illegal trade.
There is also an allegation that the Athanasios, a ship currently being held in Greece with an illegal shipment of arms is connected with Bulgaria (see reftel).
A flat denial that Bulgarian foreign trade organizations are involved in illegal trade in arms, narcotics or other goods.
These reports have appeared at the same time that the propaganda associated with the Antonov affair in Rome is “exhausted”.
This “provocation” is an effort to “blacken” the name of Bulgaria and “real socialism”.
The reports of arms shipments to South Africa were an effort to harm Bulgaria’s relations with the developing nations.
The “staff” of the “psychological war” in the United States is the source of this effort which will fail.
(C) As reported septel (Notal), Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Gotsev made a similar protest to Ambassador Barry May 3 and also called in the British and Danish Charges.
(C) We have not seen the April 28 CBS television show which Gotsev mentioned and which we assume is the basis for the BTA declaration, or the Danish television and Observer reports. The only report we have on the Athanasios is reftel which states that it was a Greek owned ship bound from Bulgaria to North Yemen and according to a Greek newspaper was carrying three trucks loaded with automatic weapons, machine guns, pistols and a large quantity of bullets. The ship is reportedly being detained in Chalkis. We assume the reference to South Africa is related to reports that a shipment of arms bound for South Africa from Bulgaria on a Danish vessel was detained several years ago.
(C) We would appreciate any information that Department or appropriate Embassies can develop on the recent news reports, the Athanasios, or recent information on the alleged shipment of arms to South Africa.5
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D840290–0690. Confidential; Immediate. Sent for information to Ankara, Athens, Copenhagen, Istanbul, London, Pretoria, Rome, Vienna, DEA, and USIA.
  2. Not found.
  3. Telegram 1647 from Sofia, May 4, reported Gotsev’s protest of CBS coverage alleging a “Bulgarian connection” with arms and drugs smuggling. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D840291–0090)
  4. Numbering is in the original.
  5. No response was found.