The Minister in Greece (Skinner) to the Secretary of State

No. 751

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s instruction No. 157 of May 2, 1928 (711.684/15)27 calling to my attention a draft Naturalization Treaty communicated to my predecessor October 21, 1925, but not accepted by the Hellenic Government. As the Department is aware, it is because of the absence of any understanding respecting naturalization with the Hellenic Government that difficult questions are arising constantly. Since my arrival in Athens, I have taken advantage of every opportunity to point out the inconvenience of the present state of affairs, and to make it clear that the unwillingness of the Hellenic Government to come to an understanding on the subject had already reduced the amount of remittances from the Greek population of the United States to this country, and was discouraging an important passenger traffic which might be made a source of considerable [Page 459] revenue. Apparently, these substantial considerations have had more weight with the present Government than with those to which it has succeeded, as I have now received a counter draft from the Minister of Foreign Affairs with an accompanying letter of transmittal.28

It scarcely needs to be stated that the draft now submitted is unacceptable, but I am hopeful that it can be brought into line with American legislation, and I shall be glad to have instructions on the subject from the Department as promptly as possible, as I desire to take advantage of the present favorable frame of mind of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

  • Article I of the Greek draft seems to be unobjectionable as far as it goes.
  • Article II contravenes the Constitution of the United States, which provides that all persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens thereof. Under Article II of the draft treaty, minor children of former Greek nationals remain nationals of Greece “even though they are residents of the United States.” Obviously, we cannot deprive children born in the United States of the privilege of citizenship guaranteed in the Constitution. As to minor children of former Greek nationals, born in Greece and actually residing in the United States, they become citizens of the United States by naturalization through the naturalization of their parents, the naturalization of such children being accomplished automatically; consequently they would seem to come under the provisions of Article I of the draft treaty: If this theory is correct, then under the draft American born children of Greek nationals would be in a less favorable position than Greek born children whose fathers become American citizens by naturalization.
  • Article III of the draft treaty relates to nationals of Greece who have been naturalized in the United States, and who thereafter return to Greece and remain in this country for more than two years. This Article is not very different from Article III in the Department’s draft, except that it deals with minor children, also, and is open to the objection that minor children, of American birth, cannot be dispossessed of their rights because of a change of status involving their father.

Notwithstanding the several objections to the draft which I have pointed out, it marks a distinct advance in the Greek position, the military authorities having Receded somewhat from their hard and fast attitude. As already stated, I hope to receive the Department’s definite instructions on this subject at an early date while the Minister is still in the mood to conclude an arrangement.

I have [etc.]

Robert P. Skinner