868.002/l–1847: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Greece


69. Urtel 61 Jan 18.1 We have noted Tsaldaris’ complaint that we have been unspecific in recommendations for broadening Govt. Recommendations [Page 10] from US must of course be of general nature since we are not in position to make specific suggestions—nor would such suggestions be appropriate—as to what exact political complexion of Greek Govt should be or as to what personalities should be selected. Greek political leaders must themselves assume responsibility for formation of govt which will clearly command support of overwhelming majority Greek people. We continue to feel that American public opinion will not for any protracted period look with favor upon extension by US of support to a Greek govt which does not enjoy popular support of Greeks themselves.

In our opinion with exception of Communists who clearly are endeavoring to undermine territorial integrity and political independence of Greece, most Greeks are loyal and patriotic citizens. We feel that these loyal and patriotic citizens must endeavor so far as circumstances permit, to cooperate politically if Greece is to be saved from great danger which is threatening it. One of difficulties appears to be that international communists by penetrating into certain left-wing and other groups have succeeded in raising doubts as to loyalty and patriotism of these groups and in creating disunity and mutual distrust within these groups themselves. Many former adherents of liberal and center parties, alarmed at presence of communists or condonement of communism, seem to have gravitated towards extreme right while others shocked at reactionary attitude of rightists have gone over to groups controlled or contaminated by communists. As result political strength seems to have been passing from center and liberal groups into hands of totalitarian rightists or leftists. This dangerous situation might be remedied if responsible Greek political leaders would have vision, restraint, and patriotism to form political coalition which would include those leftist, liberal, and center groups sufficiently enlightened and loyal to refuse to have any further dealings or associations with communists and those rightist groups which would be willing loyally to cooperate with all anti-Communist center and leftist groups. Rightist groups unwilling to cooperate with Greek leftist anti-Communist groups should be considered as reactionaries unworthy of membership in such coalition and groups prepared to cooperate with communists should be regarded as disloyal, contaminated, or politically immature elements the presence of which would be almost certain to create distrust within ranks of such coalition. We realize that it will be difficult for Greek political leaders to lay aside their personal ambitions and rivalries in order to make such front possible. We also appreciate that formation of such front will probably result in splits within ranks of leftist parties in which there are differences with regard to attitude which should be taken toward communists [Page 11] and within ranks of certain rightist parties in which there are differences as to desirability of cooperation with anti-Communist leftists. Nevertheless such splits might eventually have constructive effect on Greek political life since they would serve to isolate and weaken influence of extremists. Has Sophoulis2 made his position vis-à-vis Communists clear? If not it would seem that he should do so since it would manifestly be unfair to call upon Greek people to support leader who has not courage to take steps to isolate communists and communist-contaminated groups.

In case some kind of broad loyal coalition could be formed it might be found advisable to place temporarily at its head some outstanding non-partisan figure such as Damaskinos3 at least until it is in position to function.

If you consider foregoing observations valid and helpful you may communicate them to Tsaldaris and others in your discretion. Also please telegraph your comments and let us know whether you consider public statement here along general lines of foregoing but less specific would be desirable. Do you consider it advisable for us to suggest program which it might be appropriate for coalition govt to adopt? If so your ideas will be welcome.

Sent Athens 69; rptd London 347.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Themistocles Sophoulis, leader of the opposition Liberal Party and former Greek Prime Minister.
  3. Archbishop of Athens and Primate of Greece; Greek Prime Minister from October 17 to November 1, 1945.