The Secretary of State to the Minister in Greece ( MacVeagh )
Sir: Reference is made to your despatch No. 1111 of March 24, 1936, sent in reply to the Department’s instruction No. 256 of January [Page 329] 14, 1936, relative to the possibility of negotiating an agreement with the Greek Government concerning exemption from military service and other acts of allegiance of persons having dual nationality. You also replied in this despatch to the Department’s instruction No. 257 of January 16, 1936, concerning the case of Vasilios Hagiperos, in which you were requested to make representations regarding the practice on the part of the Greek Government of compelling naturalized American citizens who were born in Turkey of parents of the Greek race and have been residing temporarily or sojourning in Greece to register as Greek citizens before being allowed to leave Greece.
With reference to the instruction in the case of Vasilios Hagiperos, you direct the attention of the Department to the agreement of the Greek Government that all American citizens of Greek origin may visit Greece for a period of six months without being molested by the military authorities, and you state that this exemption in effect results in a similar exemption as regards the matter of registration. You suggest that instead of making representations of a general nature with respect to the matter of registration, the solution of this question be sought through an effort to obtain the consent of the Greek Government to the conclusion of a convention along the lines indicated in the Department’s instruction of January 14, 1936.
Your attention is invited to the fact that the reference in the proposed treaty to persons possessing the nationality of both of the High Contracting Parties is intended to include only persons acquiring such dual nationality at birth. It is not designed to cover the cases of naturalized American citizens of Greek origin who are still regarded by the Greek Government as having Greek citizenship. The Department would not object, of course, if the Greek Government should extend the exemptions provided in the proposed treaty to such naturalized citizens, but this Government could not invoke the treaty on their behalf. You are undoubtedly familiar with the position consistently adhered to by this Government that naturalization in the United States should be regarded as involving the loss of the alien’s former citizenship, and that he cannot thereafter properly be claimed by his country of origin as having retained the nationality thereof. It may be true that such a person in fact retains the nationality of his country of origin, since the question whether a person is a national of a given country depends upon the law of that country. But, while he may in fact have dual nationality, it is the policy of this Government to avoid expressions which appear to concede the rightfulness of the claim of the foreign government to his allegiance. In taking up the proposed treaty relating to dual nationality with the Greek Foreign Office, you should therefore avoid intimating in any way that the Department regards it as applicable to naturalized citizens.[Page 330]
As you express the belief in your despatch that it would not be desirable at the present time to raise the question, even informally, of a naturalization treaty similar in scope to the treaty with Albania, it is considered desirable, in the light of the discussion set forth in the preceding paragraph, that you make the representations called for in the instruction of January 16, 1936, in the case of Vasilios Hagiperos.
For the reasons mentioned you are authorized to proceed with the proposal to the Greek Government of the completion of a convention embodying as its fundamental provision the article quoted on page 3 of the Department’s instruction of January 14, 1936. The Department leaves to your discretion the determination of the most appropriate time for presenting this proposal.
The Department concurs in your views concerning the desirability of including a time limit proviso, and desires that you include such a proviso identical in terms with that contained in paragraph 2 of Article 1 of the treaty of November 1, 1930, between the United States and Norway, a copy of which was enclosed with the Department’s instruction of January 14, 1936. With reference to the discussion in the last paragraph of your despatch of the necessity of covering in such a proviso the cases of naturalized American citizens born in Turkey of parents of the Greek race, your attention is invited to the discussion set forth above of the non-applicability of the proposed treaty to naturalized citizens.
With reference to your discussion of the last paragraph of the Department’s instruction of January 14, 1936, you may, in your discretion, in taking this matter up with the Greek Foreign Office omit any reference to the possible renewal of negotiations for the conclusion of a treaty applicable to naturalized citizens as well as to persons born with dual nationality, that is, a treaty similar in scope to the treaty with Albania. You may also, if you consider it advisable, omit any reference to the “Protocol Relating to Military Obligations in Certain Cases of Double Nationality” signed at the Hague Conference for the Codification of International Law held in March–April, 1930.
Very truly yours,