868.00/2–2746: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom ( Gallman ) to the Secretary of State


2391. This morning’s Daily Herald stated that Greek elections might not be held on March 31 as Sophoulis Cabinet is now unanimously in favor of postponement.

We asked Foreign Office today for their comments. Foreign Office official said:

There is indeed strong pressure for postponement of elections, and now not only Center and Leftist parties wish this but also there are indications that Rightist party are also for postponement as they fear that British troops will be withdrawn from Greece immediately after elections. (In this connection, Foreign Office official stated that there was little likelihood that British troops would be pulled out before autumn.)

Center and Leftist parties’ desire for postponement is based on plea that there are large numbers of bandits and terrorist gangs on the loose in Greece and that they would interfere with free elections. However, British Embassy in Athens has reported that although there were number of incidents involving gangs prior to UNO discussions on Greece, they became less frequent during UNO discussions and have now considerably decreased. It has to be decided just how much can be said to Greek Govt on question of postponement. Certainly Allied Mission for Observation of Elections cannot discuss security angle as it does not fall within its province, but Mission could very well say that electoral rolls are entirely satisfactory (as Windle has reported) and that on this count elections could be held at any time.

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Two members of General Clark’s economic mission have just returned from Greece and categorically state that it is essential to hold elections on date fixed as Greece cannot “go ahead” until elections are finished. Any attempts to get administrative decisions, they say, are brushed aside with remark that such decisions must await termination of elections.

Foreign Office feels very strongly that these elections should be held on March 31.

Sent Dept as 2391; repeated to Paris as 160, to Athens as 39.