386. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Bulgaria1



  • Call by Bulgarian Ambassador on EUR Assistant Secretary Ridgway.
C—Entire text.
Summary. Bulgarian Ambassador Zhulev called on EUR A/S Ridgway December 23 to present text of reply from Bulgarian President Zhivkov to a letter from President Reagan concerning bilateral cooperation against narcotics trafficking.2 A brief discussion of bilateral issues touched upon Bulgaria’s policy of closing part of its territory to diplomatic travel, a symposium in Washington next spring in connection with Bulgaria’s application for accession to the GATT, and the possibility of a trip by the Deputy Secretary to Bulgaria. Zhulev, noting that Bulgaria had been given responsibility within the Warsaw Pact for conventional security issues, then asked for Ambassador Ridgway’s assessment of Western reactions to the “Budapest appeal.”3 Ambassador Ridgway replied that consultations would take place within NATO to elaborate the agreed set of principles into a position on the substance of negotiations, after which talks might appropriately take place between the alliances on a negotiating mandate. End summary.
Ambassador Ridgway reiterated her appreciation to the GOB for its hospitality during her November visit to Sofia,4 which she had found useful and informative. There had been good meetings on a broad range of issues, and she had been especially interested in the briefing on the Bulgarian economy provided by Deputy Prime Minister Lukanov.5 Zhulev said that the GOB shared this assessment.
Zhulev handed over the text of President Zhivkov’s reply to President Reagan’s letter on bilateral cooperation against narcotics trafficking (text reported septel).6 Ambassador Ridgway said that this was an area in which the two governments ought to be able to build bilateral cooperation without references to the differences that exist between them in other areas. The USG is satisfied with the progress that has been made in this field and hopes it will serve as a spur to do more.
Bulgarian Closed Travel Areas. Ambassador Ridgway agreed with President Zhivkov’s closing observation that a similar spirit should characterize cooperation on other issues, but she noted that there are some problems which will need to be watched closely during the new year in an effort to prevent adverse developments. One such problem was Bulgaria’s policy of closing a substantial portion of its territory to diplomatic travel, a subject that had been raised during her visit to Sofia. Ridgway noted that legislation passed during the last Congress required the administration to provide a report on closed areas by March, 1987. If the situation does not change, the Congress is likely to view it as asymmetrical and ask for a reciprocal response. The administration hoped that movement should be toward freer rather than more restricted travel for diplomats and hoped that the GOB would consider this question. Zhulev agreed to look into the problem.
Possible Trip by Deputy Secretary. Zhulev noted that there had been some discussion of a second trip by the Deputy Secretary to Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria. Ambassador Ridgway said that the prospect of further travel by the Deputy Secretary is now under consideration. No final decisions have been taken, and the Department would advise the GOB when they are. Zhulev said that the GOB was very favorably disposed to a visit, and that it is likely that the Deputy Secretary would be received by the Foreign Minister and possibly by President Zhivkov.
Economic Issues. Zhulev noted that the GOB planned two symposia on Bulgarian economic developments in response to the recommendation of the GATT Secretariat in support of its application for accession. The first symposium was being held this month in Graz, Austria; the second is planned for Washington in the spring, and the GOB would appreciate USG support. Ambassador Ridgway said that the Department would consult with other agencies in the planning for this symposium. Given the fact that Bulgaria and the Bulgarian economy are not widely known in the U.S., she recommended that the Embassy work for the broadest possible participation in the symposium. Zhulev said that the reconstituted U.S.-Bulgarian Business Council would hold its first session in the U.S. at about at the same time; Ambassador Ridgway said that the Department would work with the Bulgarian Embassy on possible calls for Deputy Foreign Trade Minister Ginev.
Turning to arms control issues, Zhulev noted that Bulgaria had been given the chairmanship within the Warsaw Pact of a working group on disarmament issues stemming from the “Budapest appeal,” and asked for Ambassador Ridgway’s assessment of Western reactions. Ridgway replied that the Brussels declaration was the result of the work of a high level task force, which will stay in existence to address the issue of greater stability of conventional forces in Europe. The alliance believed that this issue could not be considered in isolation from the question of nuclear disarmament, given the imbalance we believe exists in conventional forces. Ridgway said that eventual discussions on conventional stability between the Atlantic and the Urals should be held between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, but that a phased approach was necessary. It was premature to speculate on when such discussions might occur. The next step for NATO is for the high level task force to turn from the principles that had been developed in the Brussels declaration to the substance of possible discussion. Then, the two alliances would need to agree on a mandate for negotiations.
Zhulev said there appeared to be some confusion between Ambassador Ridgway’s endorsement of alliance-to-alliance negotiations and the recent refusal of NATO officials to receive Bulgarian Ambassador Khristov, who was representing the Warsaw Pact. Ridgway replied that this confusion was between two different issues. We do not see what can be gained from general proposals for bloc-to-bloc contacts, which the Warsaw Pact has advanced a number of times over the years. A negotiating mandate on the specific question of conventional security, however, is one that can only be decided between the two alliances representing the countries involved.
  1. Source: Reagan Library, Paula J. Dobriansky Files, Bulgaria (5). Confidential; Priority. Also sent to all NATO capitals.
  2. See Document 384.
  3. Reference is to the appeal issued in Budapest by Warsaw Pact countries on June 11, to all NATO member states and all European countries to reduce armed forces and conventional armaments in Europe.
  4. November 10–11. Telegram 4867 from Sofia, November 21, summarized Ridgway’s conversation with Mladenov. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D860893–0142) Telegram 4863 from Sofia, November 21, reported the meeting between Ridgway, Gotsev, and other Bulgarian Foreign Ministry officials. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D860893–0188)
  5. Not found.
  6. See Document 385.