868.00/3–1445: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant ) to the Secretary of State

2630. The Foreign Office official dealing directly with Greek affairs today told us the following:

It is common gossip in Athens that there may be a change of government. Although it had been believed by the British Foreign Office that Plastiras might be out within a few days it now seems more likely that he will last for 2 or 3 weeks.

It would be idle, he said, to pretend that the British Government could not force Plastiras out if it so wished, but the British do not desire to be placed in any such position, which would amount to direct interference in the Greek political regime—as, he remarked, the Russians have done in Rumania.48 The most that the British could do would be to back up the Regent if and when he had another quarrel with Plastiras.

It is evident that Plastiras is not capable of running a conciliatory government. His temperament is not suited to such a course. However, his presence as the head of the government until recently was [Page 120] probably necessary because of his reputation throughout Greece as a man of character who would be in a position to keep order.

Leeper reports that the Greek people of the right and center are fearful that if Plastiras goes out the Communists will gain much more power, and this is the basis for the probable postponement for a brief period of any change in government.

The Foreign Office official said that the tragic side of this instability in Greece is that the essential, financial and economic measures for the restoration of the Greek economy will not be taken by a government which realizes its shaky position.49 The British are none too confident that another financial crisis can be avoided.50

Winant
  1. For documentation regarding the Soviet intervention in the Rumanian political situation, see vol. v, pp. 464 ff.
  2. For documentation regarding the financing situation in Greece, see pp. 193 ff.
  3. This is a reference to the severe inflation which had taken place at the end of the German occupation; for documentation regarding the economic problems facing the Greek Government on its return to Greece, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. v, pp. 216 ff.