Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Kohler)

Participants: Greek Ambassador
Mr. Henderson
Mr. Kohler

The Greek Ambassador called at his request to read us a telegram from his Government regarding the Greek attitude towards a possible resumption of relations with the Italian Government, which may be summarized as follows:

Mr. Bonomi47 had spoken with Mr. Exindaris, Greek representative of the Advisory Council, regarding the desire of the Italian Government to reestablish friendly relations with the Greek Government, and these statements had recently been reiterated to Mr. Exindaris by the Italian Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Mr. Kirk and Mr. Macmillan had likewise encouraged Greece to resume relations with Italy. Previous Greek governments had been unwilling to accept this Italian proposal because:

They questioned the sincerity of the Italian proposal;
The Greek public, which had suffered so severely as a result of Italian aggression and occupation, would be opposed; and
The Greeks were anxious not to take any action which would displease Tito and cause him to close ranks with Bulgaria and Albania.

However, Tito had shown no appreciation of the Greek attitude on this subject and there consequently remained no reason why the Greek Government should not now go ahead with the proposal. Furthermore, if Greek recognition of the Italian Government were to have any political value for the latter, action should be taken without delay since the Italians were actively trying to arrange better relations with all of the Allied powers, including Yugoslavia. However, in the view of the Greek Government favorable action must be premised on the following considerations:

It must be understood that Greek claims for reparations from Italy would be entirely unaffected;
Italy should make a statement regarding the Dodecanese (i.e. cession to Greece);
Italy should undertake to support Greek annexation of northern Epirus (southern Albania). In this connection the Greek Government said it was superfluous for it to comment on Italian declarations regarding the independence of Albania which indicated the Italian intention to oppose cession of northern Epirus to Greece.

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The Greek Ambassador explained that the international position of Greece had drastically altered as a result of the war. While Greece had formerly enjoyed the closest relations with the old Yugoslavia, Tito had shown a definitely hostile attitude which the Greeks considered to be dictated from Moscow. It was therefore necessary for Greece to readjust and strengthen her diplomatic position. This had already been done as respects Turkey but they were being careful not to make a public show of it since the Russians would be antagonistic.

Mr. Henderson said that he fully appreciated the reasons for the Greek initiative and that he would consult with the appropriate officers of the Department and give him a reply early next week. Speaking personally, Mr. Henderson commented that Italy was a defeated nation and that he thought it might well be the view of this Government that the Italian Government would have no right to make a statement as regard the postwar disposition of territories.

  1. Ivanoe Bonomi, Italian Prime Minister from June 1944 to June 1945.