The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Greece (Goold)
Sir: The Department has received the Legation’s despatch No. 521, of February 25, concerning the forced loan imposed by the Greek Government on January 23, 1926 and enclosing copies of certain correspondence with the Greek authorities in connection therewith.
The Foreign Office Note No. 2991, of January 30, to the Legation does not appear to the Department to make specific provision for the exemption of foreign consular officers of career from the application of the loan. However, in its Note No. 3571, of February 17, to the Spanish Minister as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,25 the Foreign Office states definitely, in the third paragraph, that the exemption of foreign consular officers of career is provided for [Page 386] in the Note No. 2991. This later commitment would seem to leave no doubt at least as to the intention of the Greek authorities in the matter and appears to be at variance with the statement of the Legation, on page two of its despatch under acknowledgment, that “The Hellenic Government has not given evidence of any disposition to exempt … foreign consuls de carrière …”
If the Greek Government should nevertheless attempt to apply the forced loan to American consular officers you should make a suitable protest, inviting the attention of the authorities to Articles II and III of the Consular Convention between the United States and Greece, concluded on November 19, 1902.26 If the Greek Government should exempt any foreign consular officers from the provisions of the forced loan, American consular officers are entitled to exemption in accordance with the most-favored-nation provisions contained in Article II. It is believed that the Legation would be in a position to make a general claim also for the exemption of American consular officers, on the ground that the loan constitutes in effect a direct tax within the meaning of the term as used in Article III of the Consular Convention with Greece.
Referring to the failure of the Greek Government to exempt American companies and nationals from the present loan, you are informed that the Department has received a letter from the American Express Company regarding the enforcement of the loan upon the Greek currency held in its offices in Greece and at Constantinople. A copy of the pertinent part of the letter is enclosed, together with a copy of the Department’s reply.27
The Legation is requested to submit at once to the Department a complete report of attempts which may have been made by the Greek Government to apply the forced loan to American nationals, with a statement whether it has been equally imposed upon the nationals of all other countries. In the event that the nationals of any other country have been exempted by reason of the provisions of a treaty or special arrangement, the Department desires to be fully informed in the matter. The Legation should report likewise in detail the action it has taken on behalf of the American Express Company and any other American nationals affected, together with the results achieved. Upon the receipt of this report the Department will be in a position to determine what legal basis, if any, there may exist, upon which this Government might insist upon the exemption of its nationals from forced loans in Greece.
I am [etc.]