The Chargé in Greece (Morris) to the Secretary of State

No. 2503

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my telegram No. 75 of August 17, 5 p.m. and to the Department’s telegram No. 34 of August 19, 2 p.m. in reply. It would seem that the representation made by the American, British and Belgian Legations, together with opposition to this measure on the part of the petroleum distributors who were working in connection with the foreign importing companies, have had the effect of postponing governmental action and perhaps forcing the abandonment of this scheme. The Minister of Finance informed the Parliament that the government had decided not to propose the enactment of this legislation for the present as it was still under consideration. Premier Tsaldaris, who is Acting Foreign Minister, told the British and American Chargés d’Affaires that the proposed legislation was being put aside for attention [Page 550] later on. The Under Minister of Finance made the more positive statement to the refined oil distributors that the contemplated law had been given up. It would be rash to say that this matter will not be brought forward again, but at least a respite has been gained which may develop into a permanent abandonment.

I enclose a copy of my note dated August 17th to the Foreign Office, to which I have received no answer, and to which I do not expect to receive an answer under the present circumstances. The Belgian Minister sent a note couched in practically the same terms as mine. The instructions received by the British Chargé d’Affaires were of a very positive nature. The British Chargé d’Affaires informed the Greek Government by note that the British Government considered the proposed extension of the refined oil monopoly as definitely detrimental to British interests and expressed the earnest hope that the Greek Government would withdraw the proposed measure. The British Chargé added orally, in a conversation with the Minister of Finance, that if the Greek Government persisted in the enactment of this legislation it must be prepared to pay heavy losses to the Shell Company and that this claim would be strongly supported by the British Government. There is no doubt that the attitude of the British Government had a very marked effect in halting the Greek Government’s action.

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Respectfully yours,

Leland B. Morris

The American Chargé (Morris) to the Greek Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs (Tsaldaris)

No. 204/33

Excellency: Under instructions from my Government, I have the honor to request detailed information in respect to the reported intention of the Government to extend the Refined Oil Monopoly throughout Greece and to provide for the distribution of benzene through existing organizations under government control.

Your Excellency is of course aware that an American company, the Socony-Vacuum Corporation, with headquarters at 26 Broadway, New York City, has been engaged in the importation of petroleum products into Greece for many years. This company has an extensive property investment in Greece amounting to millions of dollars. My Government is confident that Your Excellency’s Government will foresee the necessity of adequately compensating the Socony-Vacuum Corporation for any [Page 551] losses which might be caused to it by the enactment of legislation such as it is understood is at present contemplated.

As I understand that it is proposed to present the legislation in question to the Parliament very soon, I would be greatly obliged if Your Excellency could cause me to be furnished with the information desired as promptly as possible, and prior to the presentation of the legislation to the Parliament, in order that I may be in a position to acquaint my Government with the precise data which it desires.

Accept [etc.]

Leland B. Morris