No. 449
The British Embassy to the Department of State 1

Paraphrase of Telegram From Foreign Office to Washington, Dated July 9th, 1945

The proposal that invitations to the Soviet and French Governments should be issued by the Americans and ourselves and not by [Page 661] the Greek Government is not strictly in accordance with the Varkiza Agreement and it may cause some resentment on the part of the Greek Government. Nevertheless, I do not regard these objections as too serious and I am prepared to support President Truman’s proposal2 particularly as time is getting so short.

I am, however, strongly opposed to the suggestion that we and the Americans should advise the Greek Government to hold elections before the plebiscite. My reasons for this view are as follows:
this is essentially a matter of Greek internal politics and should be settled by them. Outside interference would probably be resented.
opinion in Greece itself does not appear to have crystallized. We should be taking a very heavy responsibility on ourselves if we attempted to direct it one way or the other. This argument has special force since we should be advising a contrary course to that laid down in the Varkiza Agreement. This agreement is the only statement of policy which has so far been accepted by all parties in Greece and we do not wish to be the first to suggest that it should be modified in any essential way.
if the plebiscite goes in favour of the King the consequences foreseen by the State Department may ensue, but it is by no means certain that these dangers would be avoided by holding the elections first and by delaying the plebiscite for six months. A better alternative might be to hold the plebiscite and elections on the same day. We ourselves have not yet made up our minds about the different alternatives and we should prefer to await the development of public opinion in Greece itself.
I hope the United States Government will agree, but in any case it does not appear that a decision on this point need be taken immediately. It is essential, however, that invitations should be issued this week in order that the matter may be discussed with the Soviet Government at Terminal and we therefore suggest that instructions should immediately be sent to the British and American representatives in Athens to approach the Greek Government on the lines suggested in paragraph five of the State Department’s memorandum.3 We should, ourselves, be in favour of invitations being extended to France, though it appears probable that the French Government will in fact decline.
  1. This document bears the following manuscript notation: “Handed to Mr. Grew by the British Ambassador. July 10, 1945”. A summary of this communication was included in telegram No. 19 of July 12 from Grew to Byrnes (file No. 740.00119 Potsdam/7–1245).
  2. As contained in document No. 445.
  3. Document No. 445.