Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Kohler)58

Participants: Greek Ambassador
Mr. Kohler (NE)
Mr. Baxter (NE)

Under instructions from Mr. Henderson, who was occupied with the Saudi Arabs, I asked the Greek Ambassador to call this morning in order that I might bring him up to date on developments resulting from recent Yugoslav notes of protest to the U.S. Government and the Greek Government charging violations of international law by the Greek Government in Macedonia.

I informed the Ambassador of the two Yugoslav notes, dated July 18 and July 19, presented to our Embassy in Belgrade, protesting the persecution by the Greek Government of “Yugoslav conationals in Aegean Macedonia.” This whole question had been brought to the attention of the Secretary of State at Potsdam but had not been taken up there for discussion. Yesterday, however, the American Ambassadors in London and Moscow were instructed to approach the British and Russian Foreign Offices with the suggestion that a tripartite mission made up of American, British and Russian personnel from the diplomatic missions in Belgrade and Athens be empowered to conduct investigations in Greek Macedonia to discover whether, as alleged, there had been violations of the “principles of international law as laid down in the Atlantic Charter, the United Nations Declaration, and the Charter of the United Nations.” Simultaneously the Yugoslav and Greek Governments are being informed of the action taken and are being told that until answers are forthcoming from the British and Soviet Governments we hope no further steps will be taken to complicate the situation.

I pointed out to the Greek Ambassador that our action had been prompted by a desire to promote international order and to assist whenever possible in alleviating situations which might result in breaches of the peace. Our willingness to investigate charges relating to Greek Macedonia (which we noted had been referred to as “Aegean [Page 334] Macedonia” by the Yugoslavs) does not imply that we think that section of the country any less a part of the Greek nation than other sections; nor does it imply that this Government considers that Yugoslavia has any more legitimate right to interest itself in Greek nationals of Slavic blood than in Greek nationals of purely Hellenic descent.

The Ambassador said that he appreciated our attitude, realizing that our interest was one of maintaining international peace and not dictated by a preconceived notion that the Greek Government had in fact been guilty of any irregularities. He pointed out that any answer which the Greek Government might make to the Yugoslav note would of necessity take cognizance of and protest against the Yugoslav use of the phrases “Aegean Macedonia” and “Yugoslav conationals”—terminology which implies a special Yugoslav interest in Greek territory and Greek citizens incompatible with the sovereignty of the Greek nation. In view of the fact that the Greek reply, even though it expressed complete willingness to have an investigation of conditions in Macedonia, would include elements which might be considered contentious and which might aggravate the situation, the Ambassador felt that he must insist again on a definite reply to the request of his Government for our advice as to whether and how the Yugoslav note should be answered.

I told the Ambassador that I could give him no recommendation at this time but would see that the repetition of his request was referred to the proper quarters.

  1. Drafted by William O. Baxter of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs.