HC Deb 06 March 1941 vol 369 cc1023-5
Mr. Lees-Smith

(by Private Notice)asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make a statement concerning the withdrawal of His Majesty's Minister from Sofia, and the reasons for which that withdrawal has been made?

Mr. Butler

His Majesty's Minister at Sofia yesterday presented a Note to the Bulgarian Government informing them of the withdrawal of his Mission from Sofia. The reasons for this withdrawal are given in the Note, the full text of which I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT. They are, briefly, that the presence of an ever-increasing force of German troops on Bulgarian territory, the object of which can only be to menace and, if necessary, attack our Ally Greece, and the active cooperation of the Bulgarian Government in the German occupation, are incompatible with the maintenance of British diplomatic representation in Bulgaria. His Majesty's Government have no doubt that Bulgaria will live to regret her decision.

Mr. Cocks

Will the Minister give us some information as to the attitude of Soviet Russia towards the invasion of Bulgaria?

Mr. Speaker rose—

Mr. Cocks

May I ask another question?

Mr. Speaker

Is it related to the subject?

Mr. Cocks

Yes, it is, Mr. Speaker. Why are we waiting to allow the Germans to instal anti-aircraft guns before we bomb their communications?

Mr. Thorne

Can the right hon. Gentleman state when the Foreign-Secretary intends to return?

Mr. Butler

When he has completed his excellent mission.

Following is the full text of the Note: ":

Your Excellency.

In his speech in the Chamber of Deputies on 2nd March the President of the Council stated that the Bulgarian Government had decided to agree to a request made by the German Government in the course of discussions on the proposed accession of Bulgaria to the Tripartite Pact, that German troops should be permitted to enter this country. As a result of this decision, German troops are now on Bulgarian soil.

  1. 2. According to M. Filoff's statement the German Government have declared that the presence of these troops is temporary and that their task is to safeguard peace and tranquillity in the Balkans. His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are not aware that this peace and tranquillity has ever been threatened or disturbed by any Power which was not a party to the Tripartite Pact, and they consider that the pretext advanced by the German Government is a specious one, designed in accordance with the usual German practice, to mask an ulterior aggressive aim. From the nature of Ger man military movements in the Balkans it is clear that the German aim is to menace, and if necessary attack, Great Britain's Ally Greece.
  2. 3. By their agreement with the German Government the Bulgarian Government have facilitated the realisation of this Ger man aim, and, apart from other measures which they have taken, they have gone so far as to proceed in connection with it to a large measure of mobilisation. His Majesty's Government can only conclude from this that the Bulgarian Government so far from desiring to maintain neutrality in the present conflict, are now prepared actively to co-operate with Ger many.
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  4. 4. If further evidence were needed of the extent of this co-operation it is only necessary to refer to the initiative taken by the Bulgarian Government on 4th March in breaking off diplomatic relations with Poland, Belgium and the Nether lands—countries which are Allies of Great Britain and the position of whose representatives in Bulgaria has hitherto been unchallenged.
  5. 5. It is a matter of indifference to His Majesty's Government what steps the Bulgarian Government may think fit to take for the protection of their country against external danger, real or imaginary. Great Britain is, however, at war with Germany and the presence, in ever- increasing force of German troops on Bulgarian territory, with the obvious object which I have already described, combined with the growing subserviency of the Bulgarian Government to German policy, is in the opinion of His Majesty's Government incompatible with the maintenance of British diplomatic representation in Bulgaria.
  6. 6. I have accordingly been instructed to withdraw His Majesty's Diplomatic Mission from Sofia and I request that I may be furnished with the necessary facilities for myself and my staff to leave the country. I avail, etc."