760h.68/7–2445: Telegram

No. 1077
The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of State

secret

117. The Embassy at Belgrade has received notes from the Yugoslav Foreign Office dated July 18 and 191 in substance as follows:

Yugoslav Government deems it necessary to advise the United States Government of numerous violations by the Greek Government of principles of international law laid down in the Atlantic Charter,2 the Declaration of [by] United Nations3 and in the Charter of the United Nations to the detriment of Yugoslav co-national inhabitants of Aegean Macedonia (the Greek portion of Macedonia). These violations consist in the Greek Government not only failing to stop terrorism by unofficial organized gangs of Fascists, but also in its supporting such gangs and in persecutions committed by Greek regular forces. Statements of refugees and testimony of 20,000 Macedonian peasants forced to flee from Aegean Macedonia permit no doubt insofar as the Yugoslav Government is concerned that an organized systematic terrorism of Fascist pattern is being carried on in Macedonia against Yugoslav co-nationals for the purpose of compelling them to emigrate from Aegean Macedonia or to exterminate them. In addition to these persecutions and to publicity in the Greek press manifestly directed against Yugoslavia, Greek forces have also committed excesses by firing over Yugoslav southern frontier, which accumulation of developments leads the Yugoslav Government to believe that there are elements in Greece who desire Yugoslav-Greek relations to be other than correct and neighborly. Notes of similar content are being transmitted to the British and Soviet Embassies and instructions have been given to the Yugoslav representative at Athens to draw the attention of Greek Government to “necessity of eliminating this situation which is not in accordance with principles of international law.”

Notes also contain details concerning alleged instances of looting, torture and murder of Macedonians by Greek soldiers and “other terrorists” and list six alleged incidents involving Greek shooting at the frontier.

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Although the notes do not specifically so state, they give the definite impression that the Yugoslav Government regards as within its province the protection of Greek-Macedonians, that is, Greek citizens of Slavic origin in Macedonia.

From the foregoing and Athens’ no. 742 of July 23 repeated to Potsdam quoting the text of a note delivered by the Yugoslav Legation in Athens to the Greek Government,4 it seems clear that this situation is developing to point where concerted international action is required. Such action might be agreed upon in the course of your present conversations or, if you prefer, the Department could approach the Soviet and British Governments through the Embassies in London and Moscow. You may also wish to consider whether the French Government should be asked to join these representations.

In either case, if you approve, Department proposes to instruct Chargé Belgrade5 to reply to Yugoslav notes in following sense and to advise Ambassador at Athens to inform Greek Government of substance thereof:

Please inform Foreign Office, with reference to its communications of July 18 and 19, that the United States Government has given most urgent consideration to the views of the Yugoslav Government in regard to the situation described in those communications and welcomes the implication contained in the communication from the Yugoslav Government of July 18 that the matter should be resolved on an amicable basis in accordance with the principles of international law. The United States Government would be prepared to concert with the Governments of the United Kingdom and the USSR to offer its good offices to the Yugoslav and Greek Governments with a view to investigating Yugoslav charges of violations by the Greek Government in Greek-Macedonia of the principles of international law laid down in the Atlantic Charter, the Declaration of United Nations and the Charter of the United Nations and to submitting recommendations for acceptance by the two Governments concerned. The Government of the United States is consequently inquiring of the British and Soviet Governments whether they would be disposed to join with the United States in making an offer in this sense and will communicate further with the Yugoslav Government in the premises in due course.

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Meanwhile, the United States Government expects that neither the Yugoslav Government nor the Greek Government, which is being similarly informed, will take any unilateral action which might further complicate the situation.

[Grew]
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Executive Agreement Series No. 236; 55 Stat. (2) 1603.
  3. Executive Agreement Series No. 236; 55 Stat. (2) 1600.
  4. At the request of the Greek Prime Minister, Admiral Petros Voulgaris, MacVeagh, in the telegram cited (file No. 760h.68/7–2345—not printed), had transmitted to the Department of State and directly to the United States Delegation at Babelsberg a translation of a note of July 23 from the Yugoslav Legation at Athens to the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the gist of which is recorded in the second paragraph of document No. 1080. MacVeagh had also reported to Washington and Babelsberg the Greek Prime Minister’s comments that the Yugoslav allegations of Greek persecutions in Macedonia were unfounded, that the Macedonians mentioned were “not Yugoslav ‘compatriots’ but Greek citizens”, that the Atlantic Charter was inapplicable to this situation “unless to Greek national rights now threatened”, that he felt that the Yugoslav note was intended to lay the basis for an invasion by the “Yugoslav Army or possibly irregular bands”, and that he placed his hopes in the Big Three to prevent this.
  5. Harold Shantz.