368.117/286

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

No. 1682

Sir: I telegraphed the Department yesterday19 stating that the Hellenic Government had agreed in writing to extend through 1931 exemption from military service in this country, to American citizens of Greek origin who might return temporarily, as excursionists or otherwise, to the land of their birth. I again discussed the matter orally with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Michalakopoulos, this morning, to whom I pointed out the desirability of a definite and permanent understanding on the subject. I stated to him that exemption from military service in the case of returning Greeks was not enough, and that we also deemed ourselves entitled to a positive assurance that on the departure of Greeks (being naturalized American citizens) individually for the United States, they should be granted exit visas on their American passports without being vexed as they are from time to time by the demand of local officials that they deny their American citizenship and take out Greek passports.

Mr. Michalakopoulos expressed to me his desire that passenger traffic between the United States and Greece should not be impeded by useless administrative methods, he looked upon the coming of naturalized citizens as a matter of considerable economic importance to the country, but he was not prepared to negotiate a treaty covering the points involved, because of the possible effect of such a treaty upon the position of Greeks in Egypt who are very numerous and whose [Page 390]legal and moral attachment to the home country was regarded as a matter of outstanding importance. On the other hand, he assured me that naturalized citizens coming from the United States to Greece would not be interfered with, and he gave me to understand that, though no written arrangement could be made at the present time, he would do his best to see to it that no embarrassments arose and that individual passengers could arrive and depart without occasion for complaint.

I can only hope that this arrangement, if it is an arrangement, will work satisfactorily. It will certainly work, as far as Mr. Michalakopoulos personally is concerned, but the difficulty always arises that minor officials, here and there, from time to time, are bound to take particular satisfaction in raising technical questions of an unnecessary character.

Respectfully yours,

Robert P. Skinner
  1. Telegram not printed.