740.00119 (Potsdam)/5–2446

No. 443
Briefing Book Paper1
top secret

Elections in Greece

At Yalta this Government agreed to concert with Russia and Great Britain in assisting the liberated nations of Europe “to solve by democratic means their pressing political and economic problems.” In the case of Greece, where the United States had no military commitments and was responsible to only a limited extent for the distribution of civilian relief during the Military Liaison period, we made no public comment on the Varkiza Agreement of February 12, 1945, between EAM and the Greek Government, Article 9 of which stipulated Allied supervision for a plebiscite to be held within the current year and subsequent elections; but this Government has been prepared since that time to consider favorably a request from the Greek Government for participation in administering such elections.

Several months elapsed after the Varkiza Agreement without any indication that the Greek Government was actively attempting to implement the proviso calling for elections. In reply2 to a British aide-mémoire of July [June] 163 requesting the views of this Government on the subject, the Department is suggesting that the British and American Ambassadors in Athens4 should make parallel representations at once to the Greek Government, pointing out that in the opinion of their respective Governments elections should be held as soon as possible, that the three Allies who participated in the Crimea Conference should have observers present to supervise the elections, and that it is hoped that the Greek Government will agree to the presence of these observers. There will also be no objection on the part of this Government if the Greek Government wishes France also to participate in the supervision of these elections. It is being further [Page 654] suggested that the Greek Government might wish to give favorable consideration to the recent request of the EAM representatives who signed the Varkiza Agreement that the election of a representative assembly should precede the plebiscite. In this way a democratically elected government, after a period of perhaps six months in which to establish itself, would be in a position to conduct a plebiscite on the question of the monarchy.

It is hoped that the Greek Government will have replied favorably to this approach before the Big Three meeting. At the time of the meeting, the United States Government will recommend that Great Britain, the Soviet Union, the United States, and if considered desirable, France send observers to supervise the elections, at the same time indicating its own willingness to send observers to Greece to help with the polling and the operation of the returning machinery at whatever time within the year is specified by the Greek Government. This step would be made in a spirit of friendly desire to aid one of the United Nations whose normal democratic procedures have been disrupted by years of aggression and occupation, and through no wish to influence the free expression of the will of the Greek people.

In this connection, however, it must be remembered that Marshal Stalin in a recent message5 to Prime Minister Churchill has stated his belief that the participation of foreign observers in the Greek elections would be an insult to the Greek people and an interference in Greek internal affairs. The Marshal is of course reluctant to see established a precedent which might be used to urge similar supervision of elections in other countries of Eastern Europe in the so-called Soviet sphere.

  1. Annex 5 to the attachment to document No. 177.
  2. See document No. 445.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Sir Reginald Leeper and Lincoln MacVeagh, respectively. In the papers relating to the Berlin Conference, however, Leeper is never mentioned as being present in Athens. In his absence Harold Caccia acted as British Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
  5. For the text of Stalin’s message to Churchill of May 4, which contained the statement summarized here, see Stalin’s Correspondence, vol. i, p. 346.