The Greek Ambassador ( Diamantopoulos ) to the Secretary of State

No. 958


In the course of a conversation recently held between the Greek Prime Minister and the Soviet Ambassador in Athens, the latter brought up the subject of the possibilities of increased trade relations between the U.S.S.R. and Greece and indicated that his country could supply large quantities of goods to Greece.

After making it clear that the following represented his personal opinion only and that he was not authorized to speak for his Government, Admiral Rodionov further stated that the transport of Russian exports to Greece would be greatly facilitated if the Greek Government agreed to cede to Russia a port in a small island of the Dodecanese as a base of repairs for the Soviet merchant ships.

Mr. Sophoulis replied that the Greek Government would only be too happy to see the resumption and expansion of Greek-Russian commercial relations and assured the Soviet Ambassador that the Greek [Page 120] ports afforded ample facilities for the handling of merchandise, as well as for repairs of ships, and that all such facilities would also be offered to Soviet shipping. Consequently he did not see any need for ceding to the U.S.S.R. any particular port.

When Admiral Rodionov remarked that, in his opinion, the cession of a Greek port to Russia would somehow facilitate the shipment of Russian goods to Greece, the Prime Minister pointed out that he saw no possibility of effecting such cession, and declared that despite the Greek Government’s earnest desire to see commercial exchanges between the two countries resumed and expanded, in the event the U.S.S.R. insisted upon such a demand, it would be utterly impossible to satisfy it and Greece would regretfully be forced to forego Russian imports.

Following this statement by Mr. Sophoulis the Soviet Ambassador dropped his proposal after reassuring the Prime Minister once again that it represented but his own personal opinion and carried no endorsement from his government.

Although in subsequent meetings with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Soviet Ambassador made no further hint about his proposal, the Greek Government takes a very serious view of the matter. Considered in the light of the whole Russian attitude on the Dodecanesian problem, the sounding made by Admiral Rodionov leaves no doubt as to the U.S.S.R. intention of seeking a base in the Dodecanese islands.

The Greek Ambassador has been directed to draw the attention of the Department of State to the gravity of the above Russian démarche and to inform it that the Greek Government is placing all its hope and confidence for the preservation of its rights to the Dodecanese Islands in the unfailing support of the United States, Great Britain and France.