Bulgaria in British foreign policy 1943-1949
The thesis analyses Britain's political involvement in Bulgaria during 1943 - 1949. It explores Britain's motives for seeking increased influence in the country and traces the most significant British attempts to shape Bulgarian politics. It examines British strategic decisions and diplomatic activities in Bulgaria against the background of the evolving domestic political situation and of Soviet objectives in the Balkans. Evidence from British archives is tested against recently released Bulgarian and Russian sources. The study clarifies problems central to the interpretation of post-war Bulgarian developments and addresses the question of British attitudes to the whole of Eastern Europe. Bulgaria's marginal place in British political and military thinking is found to be at odds with the country's recognised strategic importance. Towards the end of the Second World War, Bulgaria attracted the attention of the British Government occasionally, mostly in the context of broader regional issues such as that of the Balkan Federation. Although the realisation of limited capabilities to influence Bulgarian developments coloured Britain's wartime approach, never did British policy makers disavow interest in Bulgarian affairs. The research establishes that in the armistice period British policy towards Bulgaria was overwhelmingly governed by traditional geopolitical factors. These focused around Bulgaria's potential military threat of British imperial positions in the Eastern Mediterranean and overshadowed any proclaimed British commitment to democracy. Britain's priorities were complicated by the emerging Cold War as a Soviet-dominated Bulgaria was perceived as a springboard for Communist penetration of Europe. Ironically, British unwillingness to challenge Soviet influence in the northern Balkans exacerbated the very dangers Britain was striving to alleviate. Wavering British support for the Bulgarian anti-Communist Opposition only served to expose Britain's weaknesses and further antagonise the Soviet Union. This engendered continuous restraint and gradually led to the isolation of Britain from Bulgarian politics after British recognition of the Bulgarian Communist Government in 1947.