501.BB Balkan/2–348: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Australia


33. Salonika tel 45 to Dept1 being repeated you separately. Although we agree that special session of GA on Greece is not desirable at present moment,2 our views on best means solution Greek problem are substantially at variance with Australian thinking set forth ref tel.

Our attitude on specific points made by Australians is:

We do not question desirability of attempting conciliation between Greece and her northern neighbors through mechanism of UNSCOB in accord terms GA resolution, but in light of completely hostile attitude repeatedly proclaimed by Albania, Bulgaria and Yugo we think there is only faintest of hopes that attempts at conciliation will bear fruit.
We consider that in past six months Greek Govt has done all that could reasonably be asked of it to conciliate disaffected elements in Greece. Present cabinet represents overwhelming majority of parliament. It has declared and maintained for period of two months general amnesty, of which guerrillas took virtually no notice. It refrained up to last possible moment from outlawing Communist Party which was openly endeavoring to overthrow duly constituted Greek Govt. Even under conditions of gravest danger and provocation, it has maintained far greater measure of freedom and democratic processes than any other country in Eastern or Southeastern Europe. Despite occasional false moves, it has made progress toward sound relationship [Page 227] with labor and seems at this moment to be closer to an understanding with democratic Greek labor organizations than at any time in recent past.
In this context, we believe it would be both unjust and unwise to call upon Greece to make concessions such as suggested in ref tel, especially since such concessions would be made in return for mere promises by other states to desist from actions they have never avowed. Present Greek Govt having been chosen in free elections under international supervision less than two years ago, no legal reason exists for calling new elections immediately, and we have no reason believe new elections would result in any substantial change in alignment Greek political forces. Furthermore, as practical matter, existing guerrilla warfare in Greece would make it impossible hold satisfactory elections this time. Amnesty has already been tried and found futile because of refusal Communist leaders permit guerrillas take advantage of it. Only important Leftist element which could be added to present coalition cabinet would be Communists, who are self-declared rebels and whose only purpose in joining Govt would be to subvert it. Insistence on inclusion Communists could have nothing but disheartening effect upon mass of loyal Greek people who have become convinced Communists are merely tools of foreign powers. Progress is being made toward reform of labor laws and in any case problem is not so much legal reform as satisfactory working arrangements among labor groups themselves and between labor groups and Govt.
Reduction of armed forces to scale corresponding to ability Greek Govt finances to support them is certainly to be desired and is one of long-term objectives of American Aid Program.3 However, it seems completely unrealistic suggest such reduction in absence of complete guarantees that all guerrilla warfare will terminate. We see no possibility of obtaining adequate guarantees this character in face of bitter determination manifested by guerrillas themselves and uncomprisingly hostile attitude of Greek northern neighbors who, by all reports, are making preparations increase their assistance to guerrillas and are making repeated public statements encouraging them wage war against legitimate Greek State.
Australian Govt should be well aware that British and American military instructors and advisors in Greece are there to assist Greece defend herself against foreign-inspired and supported attacks. Should those attacks cease, problem of assistance to Greek forces by British and US would disappear but, as in case of suggested reduction Greek armed forces, it is difficult to see how adequate assurance this regard [Page 228] can be expected. Furthermore, we are sure presence British and American advisors Greece is not in any way whatever reason for guerrilla activities or hostility toward Greece displayed by northern neighbors. Communist objective is conversion Greece into satellite state and they will pursue this objective all the more vigorously if American and British aid to Greece is terminated. Criticism of presence foreign military advisors Greece is merely tactical maneuver employed by Communists and clearly does not reflect real motivation their subversive policy.
Placing of economic aid to Greece under international administration would involve many practical difficulties, not least of which would be reluctance American Govt and people contribute huge sums of money without any control over their expenditure. It should be unnecessary point out that no other country is in position supply sums required in Greece at present time. Here too, we consider Communist charges of “dollar imperialism” are simply part of Communist propaganda tactics designed discredit US and that our aid is not reason for Communist support of guerrillas or hostility to Greek Govt.
We are not suggesting that Greek problem be placed on agenda of Interim Committee.
We definitely desire that UNSCOB exhaust all reasonable possibilities fulfilling its conciliatory mission although as already stated we consider prospect of success remote. On other hand, we believe observation and investigation of current developments along Greek northern frontier is vitally important function of committee. UN member Govts and world public must have accurate, authoritative and impartial information on what is happening, and UNSCOB is only agency which can conceivably provide this.
Pls discuss with Evatt,4 leaving aide-mémoire giving substance of foregoing. Explain we are anxious make clear seriousness with which we view situation and want avoid misunderstandings which might handicap smooth functioning of Committee in Salonika. You may of course omit or modify any specific statements or references which you think might have adverse effect. Our hope is Australian Govt will modify position it seems to have taken in communication sent British FonOff and will instruct its rep Salonika accordingly. Report reaction.

London pls in your discretion communicate substance foregoing to FonOff.

Sent Canberra 33 and London 378 for action; rptd Salonika 39 for Balcom 106 and Brussels 179 for Kirk for info.

  1. Supra.
  2. The Department had expressed this point of view to the Greek Ambassador on January 28 (telegram 143, January 29, 5 p. m., to Athens, repeated to Salonika as Balcom 101, 501.BB Balkan/1–2948).
  3. For documentation on this subject, see pp. 1 ff.
  4. Herbert V. Evatt, Australian Minister of State for External Affairs.