768.75/10–546: Telegram

The United States Representative in Albania (Jacobs) to the Secretary of State

secret

508. In response Deptel September 2790 following rounds out my evaluation Greek Albania border situation first submitted mytel 487, September 2 [21] sent Secdel as 62:

Notwithstanding extraneous factors indicated herein as now impinging on this situation root of problem inescapably lies in unfounded Greek claims to southern Albania which have been pressed with increasing aggressiveness for more than two years in Greek press and radio by Greek propagandists sent to Washington and London and by appeal to Paris Conference. Claims are unfounded as borne out by fact that present boundary was fixed by international agreement quarter century ago on as fair basis as could be devised since during that period comparative peace reigned on both sides of border until Greece stirred up question again and by facts set forth in document entitled “Greek Claim to Northern Epirus” dated June 3, 194691 in which Department stated it was opposed to United States supporting Greek claim.

Virulence Greek propaganda in support its claims has been due in part to British incitement and tacit support (various British officers here have told me as much) and also in part failure United States effectively to disabuse Greek claims at final showdown at Peace Conference or elsewhere.

For 4 or 5 months Albania disregarded Greek propaganda claims but later began counter propaganda in self defense thus creating war of nerves which inevitably led to border disturbances culminating in present grave situation.

When Peace Conference convened Albania felt neither British nor United States (thanks in part to Senate’s adoption of Pepper resolution) could be counted on to buttress Albania’s defense against one of two anticipated alternatives, either Northern Epirus being awarded to Greece or Greece attempting seize region if not awarded.

To this underlying international motive for virtual national mobilization and deployment troops along southern border must be added: maneuvering for domestic ends; using foreign threat to distract Albania from domestic problems; and using mobilization to tighten Communists’ grip in international affairs under guise of national emergency.

[Page 230]

In addition to purely Albanian factors mentioned situation redounds to advantage of Soviet and Yugoslavs because Albania is forced to rely increasingly on those two countries which in turn enables them consolidate their hold over Albania and eastern shore Adriatic.

With USSR assuming key role in picture it becomes increasingly imperative that Greco-Albanian border question be eliminated from list of urgent international problems facing world today. Withdrawal of claims Paris Conference 2 weeks ago should facilitate achievement this end. Danger still exists however that Albania with Russian and Yugoslav prodding will continue present military situation in spite of removal of official grounds for it. In fact, continuing military preparation by Albania and Albania’s support Chamerian refugees’ petition of Sept 26 to UN Assembly for return to homes in Greece indicates that such may be the case. This development might be made difficult or impossible if United States could find occasion soonest to 1, state publicly withdrawal Greek claims should remove friction which has engendered present situation and thus allow both Albania and Greece devote to reconstruction energies which have been sapped by crisis endangering peace of Balkans and 2, informally along with British if possible to influence Greek Government abstain from further agitation over border question and at same time persuade Soviet take similar action vis-à-vis Albania. Some such moves by United States would have several important advantages:

(1)
Further military preparations by Albania, Yugoslav, Soviet against Greece would be revealed to world in true light and could be denounced accordingly through UN or directly.
(2)
We would regain some of our lost prestige in Albania and rest of Balkans.
(3)
Serious threat to peace in Balkans might be allayed.

[Here follows an analysis of the frontier incidents, said to be deliberately created by Albanian and Greek authorities and EAM guerrillas, and those caused by Albanian frontier forces or as a result of border feuds.]

Sent Department 508; repeated Paris for Secdel 65; Moscow 49; London 48; Athens 22 and to Caserta by courier 205.

Jacobs
  1. Same as telegram 1232 to Athens; see footnote 84, p. 226.
  2. This may refer to report PIO-563, May 31; see bracketed note, p. 167.