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Digital Archive International History Declassified

April 27, 1970

MINUTES OF CONVERSATION BETWEEN TODOR ZHIVKOV AND ALDO MORO, SOFIA, 1970

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    Todor Zhivkov and the Italian Foreign Minister, Aldo Moro, discuss the political and trade relations between People’s Republic of Bulgaria and Italy. They both emphasize the need for securing a long-lasting peace on the continent.
    "Minutes of Conversation between Todor Zhivkov and Aldo Moro, Sofia, 1970," April 27, 1970, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Central State Archive, Sofia, Fond 378-B, File 269. Obtained by the Bulgarian Cold War Research Group. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110066
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April 27th, 1970
/Stenographic Notes/

Today, the Prime Minister of the PR of Bulgaria,
Comrade Todor Zhivkov[1], received Mr. Aldo Moro[2],
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Italy, who is paying an official visit
to our country. The meeting was attended by:
Ivan Bashev[3] – Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PR of Bulgaria;
Lambo Teolov[4] – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the PR of Bulgaria to Italy;
Parvan Chernev[5] – Head of Department IV at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
Giusepe Puri Purini[6] – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Italy to the PR of Bulgaria

Comrade Todor Zhivkov: This is your first visit to Bulgaria. We greatly appreciate your coming to our country.

Aldo Moro: It is my pleasure to pay this visit because we think that in this world, that is becoming smaller and more interconnected, our relations have to be strengthened.

Comrade Todor Zhivkov: Allow me, Mr. Minister, on behalf of the Bulgarian government and on my part to welcome you wholeheartedly. I would like to express our deep satisfaction and our profound conviction that this visit will contribute to the further development of Bulgarian-Italian relations. We welcome you as a prominent Italian statesman and as an outstanding scholar. We consider the current development of our bilateral relations good and stable. We are satisfied with the current development of Bulgarian-Italian relations. In general we consider them good in the economic field as well as in the fields of trade, academic cooperation, culture, tourism, etc. Of course, it could always be pointed out that there are other opportunities which should be explored. In our case there are real opportunities for further strengthening Bulgarian–Italian relations. As for us, we are interested in their further development. We will be glad if Italy becomes the second largest Bulgarian trade partner among the Western European countries. Nowadays FRG is yet the leading trade partner.

Lambo Teolov: We have already surpassed Germany.

Comrade Todor Zhivkov: My information is slightly outdated. Then Italy has already surpassed Germany. This is noteworthy. As for the international situation, we consider it very controversial, but I would not like to interfere with the business of our Foreign Minister by discussing these matters (Laughing). And also I risk saying something in a non-diplomatic way. So, you are welcome in our country, feel yourself at home. I drink to the health and success of Mr. Moro and the members of his delegation as well as to bilateral friendship and cooperation.

Aldo Moro: Mr. Prime Minister, I would like to thank you for the invitation to visit your country and for your courtesy now. I would also like to say that this visit is an expression of our positive attitude to and interest in your country. What we greatly value in your country, among other things, is the obvious development of all sectors of your economic life. That is what made me accept your invitation to visit your country. After the long governmental crisis, this is my first visit abroad. I am grateful that you invited me and gave me the opportunity to make this visit at a time convenient for me. I would also like to admit that our relations are good in all spheres of life, but I also think there are great opportunities for further development. Making a survey of our relations in all spheres of life, I came to the conclusions that there isn't even a single sphere in which there is no cooperation between our countries. But as I already mentioned, there are even greater opportunities that we will continue to discuss in our talks with Mr. Bashev and later via our ambassadors, who have done quite a lot for the development of our relations. A couple of days ago I visited your pavilion at the fair in Milan, where I tasted your wine and cheese for the first time. I had the chance to speak to your representative and was assured that our exchanges are developing well and there are additional opportunities. We must now do more to assist the realization of these new opportunities. There are projects for further cooperation. I would like to say that as far as we are concerned, we shall discuss these opportunities in great detail. We have signed a trade agreement, which ensures the development of our relations.

As you said there are problems related to peaceful mutual coexistence and cooperation in Europe. This is an issue we will be discussing in greater detail. We consider bilateral relations very useful in the preparation of a wider European meeting. I think that a new atmosphere has been created in Europe. Of course, not all difficulties have been overcome. But we cannot deny the existence of an attempt among the peoples and governments to come to know each other better. There is a will and hope for the establishment of relations based on trust. Our trust has been increasing and we must support it via concrete acts. We would like to extinguish all dangerous war zones. We also consider a war out of the question. Peace is not something passive. We have taken the appropriate route. We are all involved in a competition and our actions are contributing towards achieving this common goal. I consider the latter to be a contribution to the development of our contacts with all countries and above all the ones that favor such a dialogue. This is actually a dialogue about Europe and the world. Hence I am grateful for your invitation. I do hope that this visit will be a step forward along the path of peaceful mutual coexistence that can be very fertile.

Comrade Todor Zhivkov: We think that we might cooperate successfully with Italy, we might cooperate to ensure peace in Europe. The issue of European security is an enormous one. We think that a rational solution to this issue might be found, which will be decisive for the development of the world, for avoiding a third world war, which will definitely be a nuclear war. Second, we might cooperate successfully with Italy in the region of the Balkans and the Mediterranean. Bulgaria is not a big country, but fortunately or not, it is situated in the middle of the Balkan Peninsula and no Balkan issue can be solved without it. Our country has proved many times that it supports understanding between the Balkan countries. Peace on the Balkan Peninsula can be achieved only if it is connected with peace in the Mediterranean and vice versa–peace in the Mediterranean can be ensured only if there is peace in the Balkans. These two things cannot be separated. And I believe that the talks with our Minister of Foreign Affairs in this respect will be of mutual interest. We are interested in close cooperation with you.

As far as our bilateral relations are concerned, it would be appropriate to discuss the problem of their development on a qualitatively new basis. As state leaders and public figures we have to be realists and know that the possibilities for further trade development between our countries have been exhausted. Because the trade is now unilateral to some extent. It is based on the import of machines and equipment from Italy, which we are interested to continue in the future; and the export mainly of agricultural products from our country. There obviously exists some kind of a contradiction that must be overcome. How do we see the overcoming of this contradiction? We must direct our efforts towards specialization, especially in the sphere of industry. There should be an exchange of industrial products in both directions, and also of machine-building products. Some circles in the Western countries are not well informed and do not have an accurate perception of our country. Bulgaria is viewed as some kind of agricultural country that, in spite of its moving ahead, still remains agricultural. This perception is radically false. I will now illustrate my opinion with a couple of facts. According to some data from the UN Economic Committee, Bulgaria is first in the world according to some criteria and second–after Japan, according to other. What I have in mind is the rate of development. Another example: The volume of our export and import is higher in general figures and per capita than the export and import of Romania, regardless that Romania is bigger and richer in natural resources. The volume of our export and import is higher than the export and import of Yugoslavia, in general figures and per capita, regardless [of the fact] that Yugoslavia is bigger and richer in natural resources. The volume of our export and import is higher than the export and import of Greece and Turkey combined. This is Bulgaria.

Let's take electronics as an example. We signed agreements in the period 1971-1975 to export electronics valued at 700 million rubles to the Soviet Union…. Now we have been working hard to open six electronics plants. This means that by the middle of the year we will have 10 electronics plants.

I'm giving these examples not to praise our country–we are experiencing a lot of difficulties and hardship. We, the present leaders of the state, are ordinary people. What is most important is that Bulgaria is developing at a rapid rate. Today, in the afternoon, a Plenum of the Central Committee of our party will be opened concerning the development of the agricultural sector[7]. We will consider a gigantic consolidation of the agricultural sector. Such a consolidation has never been introduced in the world. There are isolated examples, however. We will introduce the consolidation of the agriculture on the basis of its production.

So Bulgaria should not be underestimated. It is not a big country, its population is about 8.5 million, yet we have one ambition–to catch up with the advanced countries. I consider it a noble ambition. It goes without saying that a country that has set forth such ambitions cannot be thinking of war. On the contrary, its foreign policy is directed towards the elimination of war, towards the preservation of peace. To be honest, we must admit that communism will rule in the world not by means of war. It will win without a war. I have no intention to persuade you, I would just like to put forth our main point. It is peace.

Aldo Moro: Mr. President, I would like to emphasize two things. We first of all consider peace to be a global necessity. Hence there can be no peace in Europe, which is not related to the peaceful conditions in the Mediterranean. Within this framework, we agree with the idea about Bulgaria's role in the center of the Balkan Peninsula. I would like to say that we appreciate Bulgaria's efforts to have good-neighborly relations with the other Balkan countries. We also appreciate its contribution to ensuring peace in the Eastern Mediterranean. But we will be discussing this issue with Mr. Bashev.

The second thing I would like to dwell on is the fact that we appreciate Bulgaria's efforts directed towards its economic development. You said your aim was to reach the advanced countries. I would like to say that Italy is well developed in one of its parts, in another–the southern part, it has to solve the same problems, as you have to solve. So there is a mutual interest to exchange experience–and I consider cooperation between us in this sphere of general interest. We can exchange experience; can come to know each other better. I think that there is still some way to develop our economic relations, there is the possibility to quantitatively and qualitatively balance our exchange. The principle of liberalization that is our guiding principle promotes the development of exchange of goods. I have already mentioned some of the projects that have been worked out by the state economic units. They are big projects that have to be examined. As for IRI[8] –it means supply of pipes. This example proves our interest in this issue. This supply will give us an opportunity to broaden our trade exchange. But these are issues that needed further examination.

Comrade Todor Zhivkov: I absolutely agree with what Mr. Moro said here. We value Italy as a well-developed industrial country. I think that it occupies seventh place in the world according to its industrial potential. We are quickly developing our productive forces now and we are interested in buying plants and equipment from Italy and we do believe that we will find a beneficial solution. I hope your visit will be helpful in this respect. We are confronted with a big question. I think you are confronted with it too. Namely that we are far behind the Americans in the field of technology. We are not well acquainted with American industry and technology. But we are well aware that what is happening in Japan widely applies American technologies. Let me give you only one example. A couple of years ago an enormous plant for fertilizer production was built in Vratza.[9] A Belgian trade company supplied it. It is already working. There are 400 people working in such a plant in Japan, while in our country their number is 1,500. You are probably also concerned with such problems…. This is the essence of the problem that we are confronted with. Europe is lagging behind America by 1.5 to 2 times. These are problems with which both you and we are confronted…. We will be buying machines and equipment from Italy, those we consider good.

Aldo Moro: These problems are ours as well….It is our task to achieve a higher level of technology and to be in step with the times…

Comrade Todor Zhivkov: I thank you for your visit and for the talks we had. I would once again like to express our pleasure with your visit. Please send both my and my party government's greetings to your Prime minister and to your government. We are convinced we will be going ahead and will cooperate.

Aldo Moro: Thank you for accepting me.

[Source: Central State Archive, Sofia, Fond 378-B, File 269; Translated by Dr. Rositza Ishpekova, Edited by Dr. Jordan Baev, Momchil Metodiev, and Nancy L. Meyers]

[1] First Secretary (1954-1981); Secretary General (1981-1989) of the CC BCP, Prime Minister (1962-1971); Chairman of the State Council (i.e. President or Head of State) of Bulgaria (1971-1989). After 1990 under house arrest, until his death in 1996.

[2] Minister of Foreign Affairs (1965, 1970–1972), and Prime Minister (1963–1968, 1974–1976) of the Republic of Italy.

[3] Member of the People's Youth Union Central Committee; Secretary of the World Federation of Democratic Youth; Deputy Minister of Education and Culture and of Foreign Affairs; Minister of Foreign Affairs (1962-1971); Member of the BCP Central Committee from 1962 until his death in 1971.

[4] Bulgarian Ambassador to Italy (1966-1970).

[5] Bulgarian Ambassador to Indonesia and Cambodia (1966); Japan, Singapore and Malaysia (1973); Brazil and Bolivia (1977); Argentina (1986)

[6] Italian Ambassador to Bulgaria (1968-1971)

[7] The plenum of CC of BCP from 27-28 April 1970 decided to unite the state owned agricultural cooperatives in larger units called “Agriculture Productive Complexes”

[8] Industrial Reconstruction Institute (Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale)–the largest Italian state holding company formed in the early 1930s and closed in the late 1990s

[9] A Bulgarian city situated on the northern slope of Stara Planina

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