760H.68/4–545: Telegram

The Ambassador in Greece (MacVeagh) to the Secretary of State

342. According to the Under Minister for Foreign Affairs,86 who has called on me urgently and apparently in some alarm, the Yugoslav Government has begun pressing the Greek Government for the early reconditioning of the Yugoslav free zone in Salonika and the repair of the Greek railways servicing that port from the Yugoslav border. In view of the manifest inability of Greece at the present time to undertake reconstruction work of this magnitude, Mr. Melas said he feels that this Yugoslav pressure is not only inopportune but may betoken an “unsatisfactory” response which could then be used as a grievance for political purposes in connection with Slavic designs on the north of Greece.

Though he has only recently arrived from Cairo and has not yet presented his credentials, the new Yugoslav Minister to Greece, Mirkovich, was called the other day to Belgrade to discuss, as he told me himself, “the possibility of early resumption of commercial and economic relations” with this country.

Before leaving, he called on Mr. Melas and presented him with memorandum,87 which the latter read me after first describing the Minister’s démarche as most unusual in diplomatic practice. This memorandum expressed the Yugoslav Government’s desire for prompt information as to the date of which the Greek reconstruction, particularly [Page 306] the railway reconstruction, can be completed. It would appear that the Yugoslavs claim to have already completed the necessary work on the line from Belgrade to Skoplje and to be able to extend it to the Greek border within 3 months.

Mr. Melas expressed the hope that the Allies might give favorable consideration to orders for steel and other supplies to enable Greece to respond acceptably to this unexpected pressure on the part of her “friends” though he admitted that such orders had not yet been placed. He thought that favorable consideration might be justified in connection with the war effort, as Yugoslavia is still within the war zone. I assured him I would not fail to communicate his remarks to the Department, but it seems possible that he or the Foreign Minister may bring the matter up when they are in the United States.88 Mr. Sofianopoulos is disturbed, though seemingly not to the same extent as his … junior. Meanwhile I shall not fail to advise the Department of any further light I may be able to gather from my Yugoslav colleague when he returns from Belgrade.

  1. George Melas.
  2. A verbatim French text of the memorandum was included by the Ambassador in Greece in an enclosure to his despatch 827, April 9, 1945.
  3. To participate in the United Nations Conference on International Organization, which met at San Francisco, April 25–June 26, 1945; for documentation on this Conference, see vol. i, pp. 1 ff. The Greek Ambassador handed a memorandum on this subject to Departmental officers on April 6 (not printed). Foreign Minister Sofianopoulos, scheduled to call on the Acting Secretary of State (Grew) on April 17, was, in a last minute change, received by the Assistant Secretary of State (Dunn); before he talked with Mr. Sofianopoulos the Assistant Secretary read a memorandum which stated that the Division of Near Eastern Affairs and the Office of European Affairs “Although … inclined to favorable consideration of this Greek request” had deemed it necessary to get further information from the Greek Ambassador and from Ambassador MacVeagh; Mr. Dunn may have passed this information on to Mr. Sofianopoulos (868.00/4–1745). Detailed historical and statistical information on the Salonika free zone was submitted by Ambassador MacVeagh in despatch 1043, May 19 (not printed).