Memorandum for the Department of State Policy Committee71

United States Policy With Regard to Greece

The Greek people have always been devoted to democratic principles and have been a bastion for the democratic powers in the Near East. They are likely to be receptive to the liberal general principles of American policy, provided only that this is made economically possible for them, and to maintain close relations with the British and ourselves. They are realistic enough to know that they must be on friendly terms with Russia as well and are probably supple enough to accomplish this at the same time. They are less likely, however, to appreciate the potential power interests which would be involved in a conflict with their immediate northern neighbors, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia.

We should accordingly be prepared, in the case of Greece:

To assist actively in the economic reconstruction and development of the country and its resources, including its merchant marine, and in the revival of its foreign trade.
To take a sympathetic attitude toward Greece’s claims to contiguous territories and islands to which she has valid ethnic and historical claims. The most serious issue, in this connection, will arise in respect of Northern Epirus (Southern Albania). In this case, we should favor an impartial investigation on the spot by an international commission and should encourage a just and agreed settlement which would not permanently embitter the relations between Greece and Albania. Until such investigation becomes possible, we should not take action prejudicial to a just settlement; specifically, we should not approve the request of the Greek Government that Albania be declared an enemy state and that Greek forces be permitted to occupy the disputed area.72
To encourage Greece to an early reconciliation and the development of good relations with her neighbors, by encouraging the reduction or removal of commercial, financial, social and cultural barriers. A situation in which British-dominated Greece and Turkey (and perhaps Albania) would become isolated economically and politically from a group of Russian-dominated Slavic neighbors on the North would be dangerously menacing to world peace.
To oppose any revival of the Macedonian issue as relates to Greece, as already seems threatened by the formation in Russian-occupied Bulgaria of a Macedonian Army. The Greek section of Macedonia is largely inhabited by Greeks, partly as a result of population exchanges after the first World War. The Greek people are unanimously opposed to the creation of a Macedonian State and allegations of a serious Greek participation can be assumed to be false. We should hold the Bulgarian and Soviet Governments responsible, despite any disclaimers or misleading propaganda they may issue, for any menacing or aggressive acts of “Macedonian” forces or a “Macedonian State” against Greece, and should not hesitate to make our views clear to Moscow and to the public if the occasion arises.73

  1. This paper was submitted to the Policy Committee of the Department on October 23, 1944, as one of a series of papers for consideration under the general subject of interests and policy of the United States in Eastern and Southeastern Europe and the Near East. Although there is no clear indication of the drafting’ origins of this document, problems such as were herein considered were constantly under study in the Department of State in 1943 and 1944 by specialists in the Division of Political Studies and later in the Office of Special Political Affairs (particularly in its Division of Territorial Studies); these studies after consideration and evaluation by the appropriate area Interdivisional Committee (consisting both of specialists and operating officers of the geographic areas) ultimately, if the subject-matter were of sufficient timeliness and urgency, went to the Policy Committee of the Department for final study and policy determination. This particular paper, along with others concerning the areas noted above, was approved by the Policy Committee on November 8 for submission to President Roosevelt.
  2. These views of the Greek Government had been communicated to the Department of State in two Greek Embassy memoranda, No. 2898, August 15, 1944, and addendum to No. 2898, September 1, 1944 (neither printed).
  3. For documentation regarding the insistence of the United States that Bulgaria should end its occupation of Greek territory (Eastern Macedonia and Western Thrace) as a condition for armistice negotiations, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iii, p. 300 ff.