868.001/5–1645: Telegram

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

466. See my No. 456 of May 12, 5 p.m. The Regent sailed for Rhodes Sunday afternoon after telegraphing the King in London to announce his departure and to request His Majesty’s prayers for the country. In a press interview on board ship he is reported to have said: “I am going now not as Archbishop but as Regent. It is not a question of an engagement with the Dodecanese but of a marriage from which no divorce will be possible.”

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At Rhodes where he reputedly was received with a tremendous ovation, the Regent attended a Te Deum at the Cathedral and subsequently addressed the people in the open, saying that he came to bring the first heartfelt greeting of Mother Greece and the free Greek people and to congratulate the Dodecanesians on their liberation. Urging them to forget the bitter past, he promised a new period of national integration and social well-being and concluded substantially as follows: “Greece desires only her undoubted national rights. Her sacrifices cannot remain unrewarded. My salutation to Rhodes is the official seal on the spiritual bond between Greece and the Dodecanese. The justice of our great Allies guarantees that the Dodecanese may await with unshakable faith the formal declaration of her return to her mother. This official recognition will inevitably come.”99

The Athens press has continued to view the Regent’s visit as indicative of a future certainty of the return of the Dodecanese to Greece. It treats this matter as a purely domestic one unassociated with and unparalleled by other international territorial questions.

  1. In his dispatch 1072, May 25, 1945, Ambassador MacVeagh commented, in part, “The Department will note that the speech [at Rhodes] is of a religious and patriotic nature and that the Archibishop … carefully refrained from making any statement which might be interpreted as constituting a proclamation of de facto annexation of the islands to Greece … Meeting the press on his return to the Piraeus on May 18, the Archbishop is quoted by the leftist Eleftheri Ellada as stating … when questioned about Cyprus … that he understood the keen interest of the Greek people in the subject but that It is not advisable to touch this matter at present.’

    Altogether, it would appear that the Archbishop has been careful to observe the diplomatic proprieties in connection with the Dodecanese and Cyprus. …” (868.001/5–2545)