868.00/3–1146: Telegram

The Chargé in Greece (Rankin) to the Secretary of State

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333. Deptel 252, March 2. Grady and I agree that direct representations to Greek Government at this time might merely reinforce contention of Left that Government is being forced by Allies to hold elections prematurely before security and other conditions propitious.

We believe it would be helpful if Secretary were to emphasize in response to query at press conference extensive organizational preparations for observing elections on March 31 and difficulty as well as expense of maintaining mission organization in existence should elections [Page 121] be postponed (Deptel 2157, March 10, to London55). Press query might ask whether observer mission would be withdrawn if elections postponed as urged by Leftist parties.

As deadline for registration of candidacies nears, the statement should be made immediately in hope that dissidents will participate if satisfied that tactics for delay unavailing.

Secretary might continue his remarks by saying that as prospects for economic recovery of Greece rest upon establishment of elected government it is our hope that Greek people will avail themselves of presence of Allied observers to exercise right to ballot without fear in same courageous manner they defended their homeland against invaders.

For Department’s information, Secretary’s statement is desired for local effect both in discouraging postponement and in influencing as large participation as possible in elections.56

In my opinion, state of public order is such that under Allied observation elections can be held on March 31 with reasonable expectation of fairness and I believe further postponement unlikely produce any improvement while deliberate violence by organized subversive groups always possible irrespective of election date.

  1. Not printed.
  2. In telegram 316, March 14, 1946, 8 p.m. (868.00/3–1446), the Department informed Athens of its doubt concerning the wisdom of issuing a statement along the lines suggested in telegram 333, so close to Mr. Bevin’s letter of March 7 to the Greek Prime Minister, p. 117. In telegram 337, March 19, 1946, 6 p.m. (868.00/3–1646), Athens was notified that the Department was preparing a statement on the elections for release to the press. The Embassy was directed not to approach the Greek Government with the statement authorized in Department’s telegram 252, March 2, p. 117, unless specifically instructed. For statement made by Mr. Byrnes, see telegram 333 to Athens, infra.