The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Kennan) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 19—3:30 p.m.]
867. Summary follows of unsigned major article on forthcoming Greek elections published Red Fleet March 19:
General elections scheduled for March 31 have greatly aggravated internal political situation. Overwhelming majority of population is protesting against election date upon which British Govt insists so strongly. At first only Leftist parties insisted upon postponement but this movement now includes remaining parties except for reactionary Rightists. Ten Ministers resigned out of unwillingness to bear responsibility for elections. Greek Govt thereupon decided to request British Govt to agree to postponement. But this did not succeed for British Ambassador in Athens remained adamant. Then Sophoulis asked Bevin for “advice” in letter to which Bevin replied by insisting categorically upon scheduled date. At end of his letter Bevin advised Sophoulis to turn for support to Chief of British Police in Athens. This “advice” is superfluous for it is presence of British troops and police in Greece that encourages activity of Monarchist-Fascist groups as British papers Manchester Guardian and Times point out. British Govt motivates its decisions by assertion that 1,200 foreign observers cannot remain indefinitely in Greece and that it is in interests of Greeks themselves to hold elections as soon as possible as British troops will be removed thereafter. Such arguments will hardly convince anyone.
On March 15 democratic parties and organizations in Greece requested Govts of Britain, USA, USSR and France to avert election parody and facilitate restoration of democracy in Greece. This message emphasized that recently intensified terrorism is obstructing all activity of democrats in provinces and paralyzing it to considerable degree in towns. Foreign observers cannot prevent mass falsification of lists which has reached such proportions that Greek authorities have already received 45,000 written protests on this score. All reports [Page 123] from Greece refer to fact that Monarchist-Fascist terror has sharply increased. Political terror is aggravated by severe economic situation.
It is plain to all honest and impartial observers that elections now being prepared are an attempt to provoke Monarchist-Fascist coup d’état under mask of “legality” and thereby deceive world public opinion. As Eleutheria stated, Greek people will hardly accept authority imposed upon it without resistance.
Sent Dept 867, repeated Athens 17, London 149, and Frankfurt.