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|FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES|
1964-1968 Volume XVII
Department of State
Sofia, January 9, 1964, 8 p.m.
/1/Source; Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 BUL-US. Limited Official Use. Repeated to Vienna and Munich.
436. Department pass USIA. Legtel 433./2/ I called on Foreign Minister Bashev 5:00 p.m. January 9. Also present Legation officer Robert Houston; Chernev, Chief, American Section Foreign Office and Garvalov, Foreign Office interpreter.
/2/Telegram 433, January 8, reported that cancellation of Anderson's flight from Vienna had forced a cancellation of her meeting with Bashev. (Ibid., ORG 7 SOFIA)
I first presented at some length US views and reactions to Bulgarian December 27 attack,/3/ pointing out inevitable harmful consequences which attack has already produced on Bulgarian-US relations, adding this attack had impaired my personal confidence in future Bulgarian intentions. I also emphasized that attack had been harmful to Bulgaria's expressed interest in increasing trade and tourism with U.S. in view of damage done to good will of American people and that doubts had been raised in minds of U.S. Government officials. I stressed the outrage felt by U.S. press and public opinion.
/3/On the second day of the trial of accused spy Ivan-Asen Georgiev, a "spontaneous" demonstration of approximately 3,000 people gathered before the U.S. Legation, hurling ice chunks, rocks, and other solid objects at the building's windows. The mob also damaged four automobiles belonging to Legation employees.
I then stated my Government and I emphatically reject Bulgarian demand that Legation close its windows, adding U.S. considers this an attack on Legation's inviolability and direct contradiction to Vienna convention./4/ I repeated that this demand completely unacceptable and has only contributed to worsening our already seriously damaged relations.
/4/For text of the convention on consular relations, done at Vienna on April 24, 1963, see 21 UST 77.
Finally I suggested that if Bulgarian Government wished to try to regain some of its lost good will and prestige Bulgarians should put forward some alternative constructive proposals which might help to improve relations. I said I would be glad to meet Bashev in few days to discuss such constructive proposals but repeated I could not accept demand to close windows.
Bashev responded by repeating his earlier claims that December 27 attack was "spontaneous" demonstration which Bulgarian Government could not control. While Bashev did not specifically refer to Georgiev, he mentioned attack as a popular reaction to trial./5/
/5/During the trial of Georgiev, the prosecution introduced evidence designed to implicate a Legation Second Secretary in the espionage.
He then brought up NBC-TV film re my activities in Bulgaria which he said Bulgarian Government considers offensive. He blames U.S. Government for permitting film he considered derogatory to Bulgaria to be shown in U.S. After quoting from this TV script he turned to subject of Legation windows. He implied that unless we yielded to demand Bulgarian people would be told about NBC-TV derogatory film which might revoke another "spontaneous" demonstration.
I categorically rejected any responsibility for NBC-TV film emphasizing that U.S. Government has no control over TV industry, which is entirely private.
Bashev repeated demands regarding windows mentioning they still stuck to their deadline for closing. I responded I could not accept this demand but I would be willing to meet him again in few days to discuss alternative proposals of constructive nature.
Comment: Conversation lasted one hour and was conducted in serious, calm and unyielding vein on my part.
At one point during conversation when Bashev said he would inform his government of my remarks, I had impression he was about to back down on his demand. However, later he again repeated his demand in much the same terms as previously.
I believe extreme sensitivity shown by Bashev and Bulgarian Government regarding unfavorable publicity in U.S. may be restraining factor in further demonstrations against windows. Bashev did not cite any instances of improper use of windows. Only justification given for closure request concerned extra situations such as NBC-TV film and so-called Bulgarian popular reaction against U.S. Noteworthy that although I mentioned several times the hope that Bulgaria and U.S. could resume improvement of our relations Bashev responded to this by saying "we wish to develop normal relations with U.S." This is distinctly retrogressive in contrast to position taken by Chernev December 31.
Legation intends to maintain normal window display and await developments. I believe we have given Bashev sufficient opportunities to take up some new line and that meanwhile we should remain unyielding.
Pouching details soonest.
Washington, February 19, 1964, 5:31 p.m.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 BUL-US. Confidential. Drafted by Warker; cleared in EUR, E, and the Commerce Department; and approved by Vedeler.
392. Ref: Legtel 497./2/
/2/Telegram 497, February 14, recommended that, in light of Bulgarian unwillingness to take concrete action to improve relations, the Department of State continue to consult the Embassy before issuing export licenses and that the Commerce Department continue to hold wheat negotiations in suspension. (Ibid.)
1. Department agrees your view that US should continue give GOB evidence that it takes overall view of dealings with Bulgaria and that US decisions on commercial transactions will be affected by general status US-Bulgarian relations.
2. It also important bear in mind that sales US surplus agricultural commodities for cash or on normal commercial credit to Sovbloc countries carry significant advantages for US including reduction CCC storage costs and improvement US balance payments.
3. Department believes best way to follow above two principles is along lines procedure followed for cotton license (Deptel 377, Legtel 490),/3/ where GOB given evidence Department and Legation act on important transactions in light overall relations and not automatically.
/3/In telegram 377 to Sofia, February 5, the Department of State provided instructions to the Legation for discussions with the Foreign Minister on licensing issues. (Ibid., INCO-COTTON-US) Telegram 490 from Sofia, February 10, reported that Anderson had informed Bashev that the Legation had recommended favorable action on export licenses for cotton. (Ibid.)
4. In light all factors (reftel, Deptel 384, point 2 above)/4/ Department believes on balance Commerce Department should be enabled inform US merchant he may proceed wheat sale. However pursuant point 1, above, Department agrees you may mention this transaction to appropriate Bulgarian official (not necessarily Foreign Minister) in manner similar to that in which you discussed cotton transaction with Foreign Minister. Request this be done earliest opportunity and that you cable response and your recommendation. Anticipate that if contract giving US space it desires Plovdiv signed as expected (Legtel 498)/5/ wheat sale should be permitted proceed.
/4/Telegram 384 to Sofia, February 12, reported that the Commerce Department would issue licenses to Bulgaria and the Department of State would drop its advisory role in the process unless the Legation saw reasons for its continuance. (Ibid.)
/5/Telegram 498 from Sofia, February 14, outlined Bulgarian desires for specific U.S. exhibits at the Sofia trade fair. (Ibid., TP 8-1 BUL (PL))
5. Most significant transaction Department currently delaying because of political situation is application submitted CCC by US exporter for sale to Bulgaria of $8 million worth tobacco on three year credit terms. Transaction would involve private bank giving irrevocable letter credit to CCC with bank assuming all risk. Possibility EXIM guarantee not raised.
USDA desires approve this transaction soon to help dispose large surplus tobacco stocks and willing agree three year terms. Department prefers utilize this rather than wheat transaction to test Bulgarian sentiment over period next week or ten days. If situation unchanged or more favorable at end this period, would be desirable approve this transaction.
6. Department will continue review issuance export licenses for Bulgaria (Deptel 340)./6/ Legation will be consulted on important transactions as political situation warrants.
/6/Telegram 340 to Sofia, January 19, outlined procedures for obtaining Commerce Department licensing. (Ibid., INCO-WHEAT-US 7)
Sofia, August 6, 1964.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 BUL-US. Confidential. Drafted by Anderson. Transmitted as Enclosure 1 to airgram A-78, August 13.
US Views on US-Bulgarian Relations
I began the talk by mentioning certain developments and problems in US-Bulgarian relations, covering the following main points:
(1) Agricultural Production Minister Vachkov's impending visit to the US, with four agriculturists, is a gratifying development./2/
/2/A memorandum of Vachkov's talks in the Department of State on August 13 is ibid., AGR 7 BUL.
(2) Bulgarian purchases of large quantities of US agricultural commodities (especially fodder) is a healthy sign in the trade field, indicating that the US is able to offer these commodities on terms most favorable to Bulgaria. The Legation is informed that some further licenses are now pending.
(3) The US is preparing an extensive exhibit at the Plovdiv Fair, cooperating with the Bulgarian authorities at each appropriate step of its development, and anticipates successful participation.
(4) As a step toward developing "two-way" cultural relations, the Legation has recently passed on to the Bulgarian authorities some practical suggestions for Bulgarian cultural exhibits in the US which we would be glad to help seek to arrange.
(5) Some problems persist in our relations, the principal one being the continuing militia interference with visitors to the Legation. To illustrate, within the past week a US professor was questioned by the militiaman at the door as he sought to enter. Both sides have agreed that such action is contrary to all principles of international practice, yet it goes on.
(6) We would appreciate it if the Foreign Ministry would expedite action on the claims the Legation submitted last month for payment for damages to our vehicles during the December 27 attack on the Legation. Payment can be made in leva, if necessary.
Bulgarian View of US-Bulgarian Relations
Then Bashev began with his reply, the main gist being that he saw nothing to be pleased about as far as US-Bulgarian relations are concerned. He didn't think they were very good. There had been absolutely no improvements that he could see. He did thank me for my statement, but he said that unfortunately he found no reasons to say there was any normal basis for developing our relations. The United States, he went on, does not show enough understanding to enable such development to take place.
Bashev claimed that he has said more than once that the development of relations between our two countries must be on a mutual basis. At present such a basis does not exist. The US has not changed its attitude in the economic field. "We see nothing positive that has been done on the part of the United States," he said. "You continue to discriminate against our commodities. This hampers our exports. The fact that some export licenses have been issued cannot be considered as a change in attitude on the part of the United States. Trade should be two-way trade. This does not exist now due to discriminatory measures on your part. Bulgaria sees no goodwill on the part of the United States."
Bashev continued as follows:
The Bulgarian Government has not changed its desire to develop good relations with the United States. This has been stated in the past by the Bulgarian Prime Minister and by other responsible officials. And again I am repeating it. I was authorized to say that the Bulgarian Government has the desire to normalize and improve relations with the United States, but we do not see such readiness on your part.
I can give two examples to substantiate my statement. Some time ago we signed the claims agreement./3/ The USA expressed at that time its readiness to develop trade, but nothing has been done. During my conversation with Secretary Rusk,/4/ the latter stated that, although there were no legal possibilities to change the discriminatory measures in the trade field, the Department of State might take some other "special measures" to alleviate the situation. No steps were taken.
/3/For text of this agreement, signed in Sofia on July 2, 1963, see 14 UST 969.
/4/They met at New York on September 30, 1963; see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. XVI, Document 22.
We buy some US commodities. We may continue to do so for some time. But if the US does not buy our commodities, we will look for other markets which are opening up for us. The US found it impossible to sell electrical locomotives to us. We were able to buy them somewhere else. If the US decides "magnanimously" (here Bashev became sarcastic) to sell some goods to us, this is no help in bettering our relations. We would like conditions on equal footing. Whether this can be done by some legislative action, or otherwise, I do not know. This is your business. If the US has no interest in improving our relations, we will understand that, too; but the United States should also understand us.
We cannot confine our relations to cultural relations, only. This is of small interest to us. For us, the important thing is to develop normal economic relations, not because we are compelled to buy from the United States but because this would amount to the establishment of normal relations.
In absence of appropriate changes on the part of the US toward Bulgaria, we will be compelled to believe that some elements in the US unfriendly to our country are influencing our relations. You know very well what I mean. There were statements made in the US Congress addressed to so-called nationalist groups. At the present time we do not see enough good will on the part of the US ruling circles. Of course, visits by American public opinion leaders to Bulgaria and the visit of Minister Vachkov and his group to the US are positive factors but they are not sufficient to change our relations. We should not minimize the importance of such visits, nor should we overestimate it.
US Considers General Improvement in Relations a Prerequisite to Concessions in Trade
I said I was disappointed and surprised to hear Bashev speak like this. I reminded him, as I have done many times before, that trade is a two-way street. I said we have done everything we could to try to improve relations. I said it was very surprising to me if he thought that economic relations could exist in a vacuum. For us, trade is only a part of good relations--diplomatic, cultural and political relations are also part of the picture. Unfortunately, I said, there has been very little progress during the past year. I reminded him that the December attack on our Legation has made it virtually impossible for me to work toward bettering relations. I said that if he did not understand the effect that the December attack on the Legation and subsequent bad publicity had had on American public opinion, then he did not understand the American people and our Government. I said that he must understand we cannot possibly give Bulgaria MFN treatment at present; that Congressional action is required. Even if Congress should in the future extend MFN treatment to Rumania, I said, there is no guarantee that Bulgaria will receive it. There must be a general improvement in our relations.
I went on to say that I believe that the terms on which export licenses are being issued to Bulgaria are good ones. If they were not, Bulgaria would not accept them.
Concluding, I reiterated that I see the relations between our countries in a broad spectrum--diplomatic, political, cultural and trade relations. Maybe Bashev is interested only in trade, but we are interested in all aspects. I would like to see an improvement of our general relations before I could recommend special trade concessions.
Bulgarian View: Trade is the Basis of our Relations, and Must Be on Equal Footing
Bashev repeated his same old statement, saying we were not living up to our word. I asked him to be specific: what specifically did he want. He merely repeated the same two examples of our alleged failure to live up to promises to help develop trade, made when we signed the claims agreement and during the Rusk-Bashev talks. Then he went into the question of US purchases of Bulgarian tobacco. He complained that the US buys Oriental tobacco from some countries at 12 percent tariff but that Bulgarian tobacco continues to have the 36 percent tariff.
Bashev said that other countries do not talk about public opinion as a factor governing bilateral relations. He said, "We trade with England, Japan, West Germany, Italy, and the Scandinavian countries--none of them raise such problems. Why should the United States?" He said he would like to remind me that Bulgaria, too, has public opinion, and that this is very important to the Bulgarian Government.
Bashev repeated once again that there are few encouraging factors in our relations. He said Bulgaria considers that it is the fault of the United States. Bulgaria has declared that it is ready to develop relations.
This is not our first conversation on this subject, Bashev recalled. He asked that I understand two points well: (1) trade is not the content of our relations but only the basis; (2) Bulgaria does not ask for any concessions. Bulgaria wants to trade as equal partners. How this can be achieved, whether through legislative action or otherwise, is up to the US Government and not to Bulgaria. The Bulgarian people feel no guilt, and ask for no concessions from the US. Bulgaria is an independent state and can trade with anyone. It is up to the US to decide whether it wants to trade with Bulgaria. Bulgaria wants to be friendly.
Bashev said "I am not angry. I am just stating the facts. On the basis of equal footing and improvement in trade, Bulgaria is willing to improve relations with the US. Until then, there can be no change in US-Bulgarian relations. Bulgaria is ready to see deeds on the US part to substantiate its declarations."
Bulgarian View of US Participation in Plovdiv Fair
Reacting to my statement about the Plovdiv Fair, Bashev said he would like to see US participation in the Plovdiv Fair help develop trade relations. He asked that our participation be "without any other intentions".
Bulgaria Will Expedite Payment of Claims for Legation Cars
The sole positive note in Bashev's tirade on US-Bulgarian relations was his response to my request to expedite payment on the Legation's claim for damages to its vehicles in the December 27 attack. He said that as I knew, the question "will be settled", and that the appropriate Bulgarian authorities would be asked to expedite the matter.
Bulgarian View of Vietnam Developments
After Bashev had reiterated his accusations about the US failure to develop trade, I said I didn't think it was productive to continue this subject and that perhaps we could discuss it another time, with better results. I changed the subject to ask Bashev for his Government's views about the crisis in Vietnam.
Bashev answered that his government had not met on this matter; they had as yet taken no position. He could only tell me of the Foreign Ministry's views. He said they were deeply concerned; also that the Bulgarian people are very much concerned about American actions in Southeast Asia. He repeated sadly that they were deeply concerned.
I said we were acting to put down aggression. I pointed out that American ships had been attacked on the high seas and that the US had every right to repulse the attack and defend itself.
Here Bashev shook his head, sadly. He said this was dangerous to world peace and that the responsibility was entirely in the hands of the US Government. "The recent action by the US Government refutes the previous declaration made by President Johnson," he said, adding that he hoped that common sense would prevail. Bashev said that deeds are more important than declarations. The action against the North Vietnamese villages (sic) was in contradiction to, and refuted, US declarations about democracy, humanity and justice, he claimed.
I said we were only living up to our agreements by helping Vietnam to maintain its independence. Further, I said, we would always defend ourselves when attacked, but we hoped not to widen the conflict.
Washington, February 17, 1965, 11 a.m.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 23-8 BUL. Confidential. Drafted by White, and approved in S on February 25. The meeting was held in Secretary Rusk's office. The source text is labeled "Part IV of VI Parts."
/2/On February 15, a mob protesting U.S. involvement in Vietnam attacked the U.S. Legation and Residence in Sofia.
The Minister mentioned several recent developments which he believed clearly showed Bulgarian intentions to improve relations. His Government recently agreed to a limited cultural exchange in the field of English teaching and in principle to the negotiation of a consular convention. These developments were helpful, he believed.
The Secretary had certain comments to make. We were, of course, also interested in improving US-Bulgarian relations. We were prepared to make efforts in that direction in connection with both small and large questions involved. However, he wanted to emphasize strongly that the starting point must be the observance of the minimum rights of legations worked out by diplomacy over several hundred years. If these rights are not fully respected, it is difficult to make an effort for the improvement of relations. We are seriously concerned that our Legation has been attacked for the third time in two years. We feel such matters very deeply. These attacks also create political problems in the U.S. Such actions tend to proscribe our freedom of action to improve relations. Even if we have different views on serious and dangerous questions, we cannot permit these differences of opinion to erode generally accepted diplomatic practices. Otherwise the whole fabric of diplomatic life falls to pieces. We hope the Bulgarian Government will do everything in its power to protect the rights of our Legation in Sofia. The Secretary said he had not used violent language or excessive adjectives in his discussion, but this does not make the problem any less serious. Having said that, he continued that we are interested in improving relations--not for any undisclosed or for any cold war reason--but we do believe that peoples with different social systems should find ways to reduce and eliminate difficulties whenever possible. We want to put relations between peoples on an accepted normal basis if the situation permits.
The Minister had a few comments relative to the demonstration on February 15. In this latest incident the Foreign Minister took the initiative to call in the US Charge to express regrets. Steps were taken to protect our Legation. The Secretary should be aware of these facts.
The Secretary commented there was another problem which he must mention. The activities of the militia near our Legation in Sofia are a source of concern to us. He wished to urge that the rights of the Legation be of particular concern to both sides. Problems of this kind should not be allowed to arise.
Sofia, October 8, 1965, 10 a.m.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL BUL-US. Limited Official Use. No drafting information appears on the source text, which was transmitted as Enclosure 1 to airgram A-155 from Sofia, October 14. The meeting was held in Zhivkov's office. Anderson left post on December 6, 1964, and President Johnson nominated Nathaniel Davis, Sr., as Minister to Bulgaria on May 6, 1965. He presented his credentials on June 4.
The Prime Minister welcomed Mr. Davis and stated that unfortunately in the relationship between the United States and Bulgaria, ninety-nine per cent depended upon the Department of State and only one per cent depended upon Bulgaria; but that that one per cent consisted of good will and good faith. The Minister said that the Prime Minister is too modest in his assessment, to which the latter replied he is a realist, that 35 years of party and Komsomol work had taught him to become a realist. He added that he was not speaking the language of diplomacy, that he talks straightforward and plain language. He stated that Mrs. Anderson started out speaking to him in diplomatic language but that he wanted to talk with her in human terms which they then did. Zhivkov added that he had been very pleased with his talks with Mrs. Anderson, that he liked her personally and that he would like to send his regards to her. Zhivkov asked how the Minister liked his experience in Bulgaria--a Communist State. The Minister said that this was already the third country in Eastern Europe in which he had served and that therefore the area was not new to him. In reply to Zhivkov's question, the Minister stated that he had served in Czechoslovakia and the USSR, to which Zhivkov retorted that these are the "classical countries of socialism" that they are "developed countries" whereas "we are poor". The Minister answered that he felt that Bulgaria was developing industrially very quickly, that he had seen some of the new industrial plants and was impressed and that the statistics show how quickly Bulgaria is developing its industry.
The Minister then stated that he was here in order to improve relations with Bulgaria; and that he did not consider for a moment that this improvement of relationship must be at the expense of Bulgarian relationships with the Soviet Union. He assured the Prime Minister that we understood this perfectly well. We know that the Soviet Union has given Bulgaria great assistance, that there are close historical and ideological ties between Bulgaria and the USSR. He stated that our relations with Bulgaria cannot possibly be as close as those of Bulgaria with the Soviet Union. It is not our objective to interfere with these close relationships. We are located far away, whereas the Soviet Union is a close neighbor of Bulgaria. We realize that Bulgarian-Soviet relationships will be primary. But on the positive side, the Minister continued, there is no historical or other fundamental reason which should prevent us from having good relations with Bulgaria. Our historic contacts have been constructive. Just as Bulgaria has improved its relationships with other countries, we have the same objectives. These are modest objectives but they are real.
The Minister then stated that he particularly was anxious to improve communications--contacts between the Bulgarian Government and the Legation. We want to know what they consider to be problems and we want to discuss how we can solve them. The Minister felt that there had not been enough real effort to solve mutual problems. We should break out of isolation from each other. The Minister assured the Prime Minister that although he obviously does not control all U.S. policies it is his desire and the desire of our Government to find ways to lessen problems. Some problems have already been solved and he hopes to be able to solve more. He asked Zhivkov whether there are any problems concerning our relationships which he should try to work on.
Zhivkov replied that he welcomed the Minister's words especially in regard to maintaining contacts and solving problems. What the Minister said about improvement of relations not being at the expense of the United States-Soviet relationship is of course true. The U.S. should have no illusions on this. He, Zhivkov, would not be in his present position if it were otherwise.
In speaking about our mutual relationships, Zhivkov continued, he must revert to Mrs. Anderson's time and even before--to World War II. Our major problems are that the United States discriminates politically and economically against Bulgaria. The Department of State must take the first step to eliminate this discrimination, and no improvement in our relationships can take place until the U.S. has stopped discrimination, especially in trade. If the U.S. cannot stop discrimination completely it should at least take steps which lead toward the end of discrimination. There are, of course, also international problems, primarily Vietnam, which hamper our relationships. We can improve our cultural relationships and contacts but the real essence of our relationship depends on the end of U.S. discrimination. Zhivkov said that he felt that he did not need to develop this subject in theoretical terms, that he could speak practically. He stated that their relations have improved with those states which do not discriminate against them politically and economically even though they have other social systems. He cited examples--England, France, Italy and Belgium. He went on to state that even with West Germany their relationship is "normal". He stated he is satisfied with Bulgaria's relations with West Germany and they can "live together". But with the United States they are not satisfactory. He felt that they will not improve for a long time. He said, speaking frankly, Bulgaria cannot expect to stop the U.S. from conducting political discrimination against it but the U.S. can improve economic relationships by lifting tariff restrictions, at least in part. Once this problem is solved we can discuss other matters such as cultural relationships. He stated that he talked about cultural relations with Mrs. Anderson often; they had sent the Kutev Ensemble to the United States, but American newspapers then wrote that every third member of the Kutev Ensemble was a spy. Anyhow, he stated, Bulgaria is prepared to exchange cultural attractions. Again however, the key to elementary good relations is the question of discrimination. He said that with the British Bulgaria has perfectly normal relations even though Great Britain is a capitalist country and Bulgaria is a socialist country. But there is no discrimination. There are certain difficulties and even Bulgaria imposes certain restrictions on trade but there is no discrimination.
Zhivkov then changed the subject and asked whether the Minister had ever had a Prime Minister talk to him in these frank terms, to which the Minister replied that this was his first post as Chief of Mission.
Zhivkov then made a reference to the fact that their counter-espionage expenses are getting higher and higher here. The Minister interjected that he felt that perhaps their expenses for counter-espionage could be reduced and referred to one of our principal concerns, namely the question of free access to the Legation. He stated that we too feel that we are being discriminated against in this respect; that he wants to be able to carry out the regular, accepted business of the Legation, and we are not able to carry out normal business as long as access to the Legation is restricted. He added that we need good will on both sides in improving relationships; that it was his desire to bring good will from the United States; that his objective is to solve these problems. The Minister continued that he also desires better economic relationships between Bulgaria and the United States, but that he cannot agree that only one per cent is the responsibility of Bulgaria. The Minister continued that he had a fruitful discussion with Foreign Minister Bashev./2/ He was gratified that Bashev had told him that they are trying to resolve outstanding questions. On our side, the Minister stated, he will do his utmost to resolve the question regarding tariffs and other problems which have already been raised or will be raised in the future. The Minister stated that the Secretary had told both Minister Popov during the latter's farewell call/3/ and Minister Gerasimov's introductory call/4/ that we desire improvement in economic relationships and that the Administration intends to ask the Congress to pass legislation to increase the flow of peaceful trade, which would include dealing with the question of tariffs. The Minister underlined that the Bulgarian Government must understand we cannot change our tariff policy without changing the law. In the meantime, however, the Legation would do its utmost to facilitate trade. The Minister continued that there are minor questions which serve as irritants to U.S.-Bulgarian relationships and that some of these have already been solved as for instance the question of U.S. importation of raw silk and silk waste. (At this point Mr. Grozev explained to the Prime Minister what the silk issue was and confirmed that it had been solved. Zhivkov obviously did not know the facts in this issue.)
/2/Reported in airgram A-33 from Sofia, July 23. (Ibid.)
/3/A memorandum of their August 30 conversation is ibid., POL 17 BUL-US.
/4/A memorandum of their August 12 conversation is ibid., POL 17-5 BUL-US.
The Minister said he did not wish to exaggerate that we can solve all problems one after the other, but that we will do our best.
Zhivkov stated what Foreign Minister Bashev had told the Minister represented Bulgarian Government policy. He wanted to add that if he felt that the U.S. can change its policy towards Bulgaria even partially, he would take such a change at face value. He added that Bulgaria too wants to improve relationships but he felt that Bulgaria would be the last country in Eastern Europe with which the United States wanted to improve relations.
The Minister asked why. The Prime Minister replied that he spoke from profound experience. Bulgaria was not important to U.S. policies or to U.S. economic interests. He stated that he knew that Bulgaria was considered by the United States to be "the closest satellite" of the Soviet Union.
The Minister replied that our desire to improve relations with Bulgaria was quite apart from the question whether Bulgaria was what the Prime Minister referred to as the Soviet Union's closest satellite. We feel that an improvement of relationships is possible completely apart from Soviet-Bulgarian relations.
Zhivkov replied that he also thought so, but as he had told Mrs. Anderson, he felt that the Department of State completely underestimates Bulgaria's position in the heart of the Balkan peninsula. He thought that relationships with Turkey and Greece had improved and that these two countries were realistic in assessing correctly Bulgaria's importance in the Balkans. He mentioned particularly that Greek and Turkish tourism to Western Europe would not be possible without Bulgaria since all major roads lead through Bulgaria. He stated again that Turkey and Greece base their relationships with Bulgaria on realism--on the fact that Bulgaria is in the center of the Balkans--but that the Department does not understand this. It wants to move "through the back door". He stated that relationships must be improved through "the main entrance" and not through the back door. The Minister replied that he did not know what Zhivkov was talking about, that he himself was speaking only about "the front door" through which he entered when he came to visit the Prime Minister. Zhivkov replied that he was not talking about the Minister but was speaking about U.S. tactics and strategy of policy.
The Minister again reiterated we wish to improve relations in an open and straightforward way. Zhivkov replied that this is his first meeting with the Minister and that what will follow from now on is important. He stated that, in regard to access to the Legation, Mrs. Anderson had complained to him about the same subject and that he had asked for a report. He claimed that access to the Legation is free. The competent authorities denied to him that they interfered with access and that militiamen stationed in front of the entrance are only there to "guide citizens" who wanted to enter and to be helpful. Zhivkov stated that perhaps they had been overdoing this, to which the Minister replied that he hoped the Prime Minister would interest himself in this question and help to ensure that they would not overdo their duty.
In closing the meeting, the Minister expressed to the Prime Minister his appreciation for the assistance which the Foreign Ministry had given him, in particular, Mr. Grozev, with special reference to the Minister's radio-TV appearance on July 4.
The conversation lasted approximately 55 minutes and was conducted throughout in a relaxed manner on the Prime Minister's part verging from time to time almost on the jovial.
Note: In commenting on the cognac which was being offered for frequent toasts during the conversation, Zhivkov related that Tito had tried to get him to drink whiskey which the latter apparently preferred, but he didn't like whiskey because "it smelled of bedbugs".
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