C.F.M. Files: Lot M–88: Box 20: CFM Documents

The Greek Ambassador in the United States ( Diamantopoulos ) to the Secretary General of the Council of Foreign Ministers 22

No. 5834

Sir: I am instructed by my Government to ask you to be good enough to bring the following to the attention of the Council of Foreign Ministers:

1. The Greek Chargé d’Affaires in London in a letter dated April 10, 1946,23 communicated to the members of the Council of Foreign Ministers a memorandum explaining the Greek Government’s views regarding the rectification of the Greco-Bulgarian frontier requested by Greece. This memorandum was accompanied by a report on the present frontier line between Greece and Bulgaria from the military point of view, and a map showing the rectifications proposed by Greece.

2. In the text which it prepared of the draft Peace Treaty with Bulgaria, the Council of Foreign Ministers did not feel able to express a view on the rectifications proposed by Greece, but reserved its opinion until the Governments of Greece and Bulgaria had stated their views to the Council or Paris Conference.24

3. The Paris Conference started on a discussion of the Greco-Bulgarian frontiers but did not come to any conclusion. A recommendation by the Political and Territorial Commission for Bulgaria proposing that the frontiers of January 1, 1941 should be taken as the frontiers between Bulgaria and her various neighbors, was rejected by the Plenary Conference by 12 absentions to 9 affirmative votes. In this way the Conference clearly showed that it did not intend to approve a proposal which would mean agreeing to an enlargement of Bulgarian territory but which would entirely disregard Greece’s plea for security.

Bulgaria would thus be ensured possession of the Dobrudja, which she had seized in 1940 as the result of the arbitral award made by [Page 957] Hitler at Vienna. Apart from the very weighty moral considerations which militate against such a decision, the area of Bulgaria would be expanded by about 7,500 square kilometers and her population increased by 365,000, mostly Turks. Her national revenue and productive capacity would be enhanced at an even greater extent because of the economic importance of the Dobrudja. This is shown by the fact that the ratio of population to arable land in Bulgaria would fall from 165 to 150 persons per square kilometer, as compared with a ratio in Greece of 308 people per square kilometer.

The Council of Foreign Ministers, while it recommended in its draft for Article I keeping the northern frontiers of Bulgaria as they existed on January 1, 1941, at the same time left the door open for compensation in favor of Greece, as appears from the fact that in its explanatory note to the said Article the Council clearly reserved its opinion regarding the Greco-Bulgarian frontier. An adjustment of the latter section of the Bulgarian frontier in favor of Greece would therefore give Greece the satisfaction she asked for as regards security without involving Bulgaria in any loss of territory as a whole. By contrast, any proposal which would recognize the 1941 boundaries for the northern part of Bulgarian territory without at the same time giving satisfaction to Greece, would really mean rewarding Bulgaria for her disloyalty during the war and would confront Greece with the same insuperable difficulties as regards her defence which faced her during the German-Bulgarian attack in 1941.

By refusing to adopt such a proposal, the Paris Conference left the question entirely open for consideration by the Council of Foreign Ministers. There can, nevertheless, be hardly any doubt that, as this decision essentially shows, the feelings of the majority of the Assembly were clearly against a unilateral expansion of Bulgaria unless satisfaction were given at the same time to Greece.

4. If the existing frontier between Bulgaria and Greece were to be confirmed, it would leave the latter in an extremely unfavorable situation as was amply demonstrated by the events of 1940–1941.

[Here follows a detailed analysis of the defectiveness of the existing frontier from the standpoint of the defense of Greece.]

5. This extremely unfavourable defence situation is further aggravated by the following considerations:

The whole mass of Bulgaria, a country of 6,000,000 inhabitants, is predominantly concentrated on the two Greek provinces of Eastern Macedonia and Western Thrace, in relation to which she occupies a central position, as is clear from the map;
There is a very dense network of railroads and highways leading from north to south; [Page [958]]
Both provinces are excentrically situated in relation to the central part of Greece;
These two provinces have only one rail connection with central Greece, and this disadvantage is accentuated by the fact that this railway runs along the entire length of Mt. Beles, so that it becomes almost unusable from the very start of operations;
To the north of the frontier and running the whole length of it, there is a highway through Kirtsali–Pasmakli–Dovlen–Dospat–Nevrokopi–Petritsi, which makes it easy for motorized forces to bg transported from one section to another.

If all the above is borne in mind, the conclusion follows that the Bulgarian Army has the benefit of a start as regards the time required for concentrating its forces on the frontier. In the prewar days of horse-drawn armies this start amounted to eight days.

The Bulgarian Army thus enjoys the substantial and fundamental advantage that any conflict in which she might be involved could be finally decided in her favor at the very outset of operations. There is thus a risk that the Bulgarian Army might reach the shores of the Aegean Sea before Greece had time to concentrate her troops to meet the danger.

6. If, on the other hand, we consider the terrain north of the frontier, we find between the latter and the Evros valley and Mt. Rila the whole range of the Rhodope and Pirin mountains. This range of mountains gives Bulgaria several first class lines of defence, so that it can hardly be claimed that the proposed rectification of the Greco-Bulgarian frontier would weaken Bulgarian defences.

7. In view of all the above considerations the Greek Government feels it is fully justified in asking for a rectification of the frontier, which, by giving the northern provinces of Greece a depth which would make it possible to defend Greek territory more advantageously, and give an elementary feeling of security to the Greek population of this area. As, however, the Greek proposals were very strenuously opposed at the Paris Conference by some Delegations, the Greek Government feels it must accept the line much closer to the old frontier, which was proposed by the United Kingdom representative at the meeting of the Military Commission of September 28.25

This line would involve the following modifications:

The inclusion in Greece of the whole of Mt. Beles, the range of Ali Boutous, with the slopes on both sides, and also Mt. Strangatsi. [Page 960] The two zones thus formed, as marked on the attached map,26 do not include the small town of Petritsi. The area of the two zones is:

Zone of Beles—200 sq. km. with 10,000 inhabitants.
Zone of Ali Boutous—150 sq. km. with 5,000 inhabitants.

If the territory to be incorporated were demarcated in such a manner as not to go beyond the northern approaches to Mt. Beles, and not to include any village in the valley of the River Strumitsa, the area of the Beles zone would be reduced to 130 sq. km. with 1,000 inhabitants.

So far as the frontier of Western Thrace is concerned the proposed line would incorporate the parts of the Southern Rhodope range, which lie on either side of the Xanthi and Komotini roads. Moreover, the section of the frontier which lies on both sides of the Komotini road would be moved on both sides so as to incorporate in Greece the part of the mountain ridge which is farthest south from Southern Rhodope. This would serve mainly to form a barrier in the direction of Komotini, thus enhancing the sense of security felt by the inhabitants.

The areas of these two zones are:

Zone of Xanthi—75 sq. km. with 5,000 inhabitants.
Zone of Komotini—450 sq. km. with 25,000 inhabitants.

These zones do not include a single inhabited locality not even Daridere (Zlatograd).

It should be noted in this respect that most (more than 25,000) of the inhabitants of the villages in question are Pomaks.

8. The Greek Government is fain to believe that the Council of Foreign Ministers will approve of this proposal, which, while it satisfies to a very limited degree the legitimate request of Greece for security vis-à-vis Bulgaria, will only involve the latter in very minor sacrifices, amply compensated as these will be by the acquisition of Southern Dobrudja.

Under the terms of Article 4(a) of the Potsdam Agreement, the Greek Government would at the same time wish to be invited to participate in the discussions concerning the boundaries of Bulgaria.

I have [etc.]

C. Diamantopoulos
  1. This communication was circulated to the Council of Foreign Ministers by the Secretary General as document CFM(46) (NY)2, November 3, 1946. During the 5th Meeting of the Council, November 11, 1946, the United Kingdom Delegation drew attention to this communication; see the United States Delegation Minutes, p. 177.

    In his note No. 5833, also dated October 30, 1946, not printed, a translation of which was circulated to the Council of Foreign Ministers as CFM(46) (NY)1, November 3, 1946, Ambassador Diamantopoulos reviewed the Greek Government’s previous proposals, particularly during the Paris Peace Conference, for the cession of Northern Epirus by Albania to Greece, and he requested that the Greek claim be submitted to the Council of Foreign Ministers.

  2. Regarding the letter under reference, see the editorial note, p. 50.
  3. Reference is to article 1 of the Draft Peace Treaty with Bulgaria; for text, see vol, iv, p. 96.
  4. See the United States Delegation Journal account of the 29th meeting of the Military Commission, September 28, 1946, vol. iii, p. 586.
  5. Facing p. 959.