740.00119 European War 1939/1042
Memorandum by the Greek Prime Minister (Tsouderos) 1
1. The Greek Government is confident that the United States of America, which has already manifested so much sympathy toward the struggling Greek Nation, will, together with its ally, Great Britain, give to it all possible assistance when the time comes for the reestablishment of an enduring and just peace.
2. The recognition of our rights would constitute the most concrete encouragement in the hard struggle against oppression and hunger which the Greek people are today waging with such fortitude and daring. The Greek, naturally sensitive, is ready to endure everything to support the ideology of the Allies, knowing that his sacrifices will ultimately benefit his country as well.
Enemy propaganda anticipating this psychology, is endeavoring, with its usual sinister lying, to discourage the Nation, by giving [Page 823]currency to and advocating the idea that our great Allies in the hour of victory will look only to their own interests and that by imputing responsibility for Bulgaria’s Acts only to its rulers, our powerful friends will favor Bulgaria.
3. The national claims of Greece are clearly outlined by experience and the teachings of recent history. What Greece desires more than anything else is to be assured that in a moment of international confusion, it will not again become the victim of aggression from the North. Four times during the last thirty years Greece sustained wholly unprovoked similar attacks: in 1913, in 1916, in 1940 and in 1941. The Greek people would regard it as the most flagrant injustice against them if in the negotiations for peace these harsh precedents were not taken into account.
4. The establishment of a post war collective security and the realization of the Balkan Union to which Greece has been a faithful adherent ever since 1912 will undoubtedly make more effective than was heretofore possible the opposition against the greedy aspirations of successive invaders. However, no matter what form this collective security shall take, it becomes clearly necessary that those nations which are exposed to attack, as is Greece, be strengthened in the best possible manner against aggression so that in the event of an unprovoked attack against them they will be able sufficiently to protract their own defense, until effective aid can reach them, thus too, alleviating the task of international assistance. It is known that the situation created in the Balkans in April, 1941 would have been entirely different if geographical conditions at the Greek-Serbian-Bulgarian front did not enable the enemy, easily and within a very short time to prevent contact between the Greek and Jugoslav armies.
5. Consequently it is indispensable that in the realignment of boundaries in the Balkan Peninsula these needs be taken into consideration. The extension of the Greek boundaries in the Northeast to the Rhodope Mountains and in the Northwest to the Adriatic, and a comparable readjustment of the Jugoslav boundaries, would materially assist Greece and Jugoslavia against any Balkan assault. It is clear that the strengthening of the Greco-Jugoslav Combination which always and in the nature of things, was steadfastly attached to the Allied democratic nations in all international crises will redound to the benefit of these Powers and will greatly lighten their strategic and political problems in Northeastern Europe.
6. Fortunately the territories to be affected by these suggested changes are very recent additions to the Nations of which they are now a part, having been appended to them since the Balkan Wars. This annexation was at best made at the expense of the principles [Page 824]of nationality and the security of peace. The ethnological composition of those sections even today, notwithstanding the ad interim intentional and forced changes made by their present masters, is not such as to constitute a barrier to the proposed readjustment in the interest of Balkan Peace, especially as the extent of the territory involved is insignificant.
7. It is necessary moreover to note that such a readjustment is dictated by important considerations of political expediency. The nations which have provoked the present calamity and those which have aided and abetted it out of a disposition to plunder and pillage, must suffer the consequences of their conduct. Only thus can they be made careful in the event of similar circumstances arising in the future. On the contrary if those nations under the guise that they have been misled by the unwise counsel of their leaders, be placed in the same category with their victims, a bad precedent will be established for all and the wrongdoers of today would be encouraged to disregard their international obligations again, at the expense of their neighbors. A thorough and impartial investigation will reveal that the people of these nations cannot be absolved from responsibility, and the imputation of culpability solely to the leaders is untenable. Their rulers represent the national will which has always been dictated by a violent nationalism and which since 1912 has repeatedly manifested itself to disturb the peace of the Illyrian Peninsula. If the opposite were true the people would surely find ways of protesting against and opposing from the beginning and during the war the policies of Germany.
8. In addition to the realignment of boundaries above mentioned, the questions which more directly concern the Greeks, and which we respectfully submit for your favorable consideration are:
- The question of N. Epirus,
- That of the Dodecanese,
- That of Cyprus, and
- That of the economic stability of Greece so that it may not after the war suffer a serious crisis either because of over population or because of inadequate production.
9. With reference to N. Epirus and the Dodecanese there is a detailed discussion in the introduction (signed by me) contained in the Greek White Book, published in London last month, about an Italian attack. We attach hereto two relative notes and a pertinent excerpt from this introduction.2 The analysis of those questions indicates clearly that both Epirus and the Dodecanese are [Page 825]Greek provinces, occupied by the enemy for almost 22 years, without right whatever. Consequently the matter relates to Greek territories just as for a year now the mainland of Greece has been occupied and oppressed by three enemies. There is nothing therefore to justify the enemy in continuing that occupation. In addition to our old claims to these provinces, our rights to them have been recognized by a series of international acts dating between 1914 and 1920, which remain unexecuted because of the violence and the stealth of the Italians.
10. The question of Cyprus of course is different. It does not concern a demand arising out of the war and one might say that mention of it in this memorandum could be omitted. However, as our object is to submit a full and complete picture of Greek desires and aspirations for the information of the American Government we deemed it proper to include it. Moreover when the time comes, this question could well be settled directly between us and Great Britain, which has knowledge of it. This island is occupied and progressing under the guidance of a friendly nation, just as was the case with the Ionian Islands, whose return to Greece has been the cause of our profound gratitude toward Great Britain. The latter in 1915 offered to return Cyprus to Greece on condition that Greece abandon its neutrality and side with the Allies. Greece then did not accept that condition. However, since that time twice has she abandoned her neutrality, without imposing any conditions, and with all the means at its disposal fought on the side of the Allies for the same cause and against the same enemies. When peace was made in the last great war there was signed between us and Italy a separate agreement about the Dodecanese2a where mention is made about the concurrent return to Greece of Cyprus and Rhodes.
Five-sixths of the population of Cyprus, ethnically as well as in religion and language are Greeks. That one-sixth of the population is Turkish is no reason why the five-sixths of the Cyprians should not be permitted to enjoy the right of self-determination, which has been vouchsafed to the peoples.
The history of the last two great wars has shown that the strategic importance of that island is much less significant than is the naval and geographic location of the whole of Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean. During the last two world wars, Greece voluntarily offered to and did play its proper part which history and the geographical position of the country dictated. Consequently the union of all the islands with Greece, whose Greek character is clear from every point of view and cannot be questioned, [Page 826]did give Greece great power and did engender the obligation that it continue the same policy in the future by the side of the Allies. Moreover, this matter can be adjusted by special agreement.
11. The economic stability of Greece is constantly precarious due to the mountainous composition of its soil and the consequent inadequacy of production. Notwithstanding the industriousness of its inhabitants, production is not sufficient to meet the needs of the country. Moreover, the effort of the people to raise sufficient wheat is constantly thwarted by the persistent increase in population, the birth rate in time of peace substantially exceeding the death rate.
Thus the population problem facing Greece is one of the most serious facing any European country, and the continued increase in population will in the near future create a difficult situation if adequate measures are not now adopted for its proper solution.
Of course, if Eastern Thrace, which due to its Hellenic character, had been awarded to Greece by the Treaty of Sèvres,2b had remained a part of Greece, then such a problem for us would not exist today owing to its wheat production. Hence Greece, in the peace that is to come, must secure its economic stability in order to escape in the near future complete economic suffocation and the social and political incongruities arising therefrom. Consequently the question of emigration of the surplus population must occupy the attention of the government equally with other national problems.
The present government does not demand colonies for the solution of this problem. Nevertheless it seems that some countries sparsely populated must be designated as places where the right of emigration shall be open and that this right be accorded as well to the Greeks whose emigration could serve no political purpose. One of those provinces is Cyrenaica, which as it appears from the map, faces Greece and where in the past flourished prosperous communities. Moreover, the problem of emigration of nations which have a surplus population to countries which are under populated does not concern Greece alone. The stabilization of peace will depend in a large measure from the careful and just solution of this problem too, generally considered. The Allies must win not only the war, but the peace also.
12. Continuing what has been stated in the preceding paragraph relative to the economic stability of Greece, its government is deeply [Page 827]anxious as to how it shall face the complicated situation of economic ruin which immediately after the war will prevail in Greece. All its prewar economic structure will have deteriorated if it is not completely destroyed due to the war and from the intensive and long usage of all the means of production and communication. Thus put, the whole problem along with the urgent question of food replenishment of the country which is suffering from starvation, presents a truly gigantic problem, especially in view of its limited products and, in general, means of exchange. Only by the cooperation of our great companions-in-arms will it be possible for this problem to be solved in time with the establishment of peace.
Greece is a country which can serve as a center of enterprises with Northern Europe as its field of activities through which it would be possible to find speedily and soundly the necessary capital in order to make available in Greece economic reorganization and the indispensable imports for the adjustment of its various obligations.
- Handed to the Secretary of State on June 12; see supra. A copy of this memorandum was handed to President Roosevelt by King George II on June 26; see bracketed note, p. 797.↩
- Attachments not printed.↩
- Signed August 10, 1920, British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxiii, p. 1078.↩
- Treaty between the Allied Powers and Turkey, signed August 10, 1920, British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxiii, p. 652.↩