501.BB Balkan/2–2548: Telegram

Admiral Alan G. Kirk to the Secretary of State

us urgent

75. Combal 96 from Kirk. With the adoption on February 17 of the revised instructions to observers (Combal 881) I feel that UNSCOB has now emerged from its formative phase and entered into a more stabilized stage of its work. While I would hesitate to say that internally we are out of the woods, I feel it would be well to pause to contemplate some of the stresses and strains which have beset the committee and, insofar as possible, to examine its future in the light of the attitude and policies of the various members and their governments as we now know them.

The first major issue was the decision to maintain the committee permanently in session in Salonika. There was considerable support during the first few weeks for a move to establish the committee elsewhere. This desire on the part of a number of members, arising from the physical discomforts of hotel life here and the feeling of remoteness from the scene of world events, conditioned their thinking on many issues. It probably had a lot to do with the earlier move to recommend a special session of the General Assembly. This sentiment has [Page 233] now largely subsided. Paradoxically enough the recent shelling of Salonika had prompted several delegates to state that we cannot leave now as it would look like running away from danger. While this trend has subsided it lurks beneath the surface and is probably partially responsible for an undercurrent now developing to start preparation of the final report as early as next April, transferring the committee to one of the more comfortable capitals such as Rome, Some members have mentioned allotting a period of some two months to the task followed by a recess of another two months prior to the GA meeting in September. Discussion on this subject is increasingly lively and while still informal may come to a head at any time.
One of the most dangerous moves yet encountered was the agitation for a special session of the General Assembly. This reached its height with the announcement of the “Markos government” and threatened for some time to reach serious proportions. It has receded to the background as time goes on but there is always the danger that any more involving even attenuated de jure or de facto recognition of Markos by one or more Balkan states might stampede the committee into making such a recommendation. As the Department will recall, this move was actively fostered at one stage by the Greek Government through its liaison delegation and was agitated by the Greek press. I hope the Greeks have now seen the light and realize that a move to call the General Assembly on frivolous grounds is more to be feared than desired in their own best interests. In the event developments evoke discussion of this issue, I shall, of course, bear in mind the Department’s position as set forth in Balcom 101, January 29.2
The conciliatory role of the committee recently pointed up by the Australian proposal to make a new approach to the northern neighbors (see Combals 84 and 873) hardly can be described as controversial in that it was supported in principle by all delegates even though certain members had serious misgivings as to the timeliness and possible outcome of such a move. The Australian delegate, however, has placed himself on record as intending to propose further conciliatory efforts presumably under paragraph five of the resolution of October 21. He may also have in mind some of the Australian ideas outlined in Combal 82.4 It is just possible that he might agitate these ideas before the committee anticipating rejection but building up a record for an eventual minority report. If confronted with such moves, I am reasonably confident, however, that the committee would proceed with all circumspection. It is not being overlooked that those delegates who [Page 234] support the strict constructive [construction?] of our terms of reference would have as much trouble finding a specific mandate for conciliation as they have pretended to find for the investigatory function of observer groups.
Concerning effective functioning of observation groups, active opposition now appear largely confined to Australia. At February 17 meeting (Combal 905) he repeated a statement previously made that he regards observation groups as a “provocation” toward northern neighbors and I consider it probable that he will continue obstruction by sniping tactics whenever possible.

I believe a majority of the delegates feel that any further concessions to Glasheen6 would be futile and I shall if necessary, propose and support a policy of meeting his attacks head on and voting him down consistently in subcommittee or plenary sessions. I am reasonably confident that he will find little or no support except occasionally from Brazil and Pakistan. Any other policy would enable him to narrow scope of activity of observation groups to a point where they would be impotent. I hesitate to appear overpessimistic with regard to Glasheen but several other delegates and Greek officials already regard him as the most serious threat to our work. He claims to be acting under instructions, which is apparently supported by Canberra’s 37 of February 18.7 He appears to delight in the role of the “enfant terrible” and conceives of himself as the spark plug of, not the inspired leader of, the committee.

I am considerably more sanguine about the recent indications that the Brazilian representative has had a change of heart. At one point he thought that he had the support of four additional representatives in his position of calling the Assembly and toward the work of the observers. There are some indications that the majority vote of six to two reported in Combal 88 on the appointment of an ad hoc committee to investigate the shelling of Salonika made him realize that he was actually in a minority and there are now indications that he will change his tactics and go along with the majority.

[Here follow five paragraphs on the attitudes of the various representatives.]

The foregoing is intended to assist the Department to visualize the situation of UNSCOB as I now see it but is in no sense intended as a firm forecast of a future which will obviously be shaped far from Salonika.

  1. Identified also as telegram 63, February 14, 10 p. m., from Salonika, not printed.
  2. Not printed; but see footnote 2, p. 226.
  3. Identified also as telegrams 48, February 7, 9 p. m., from Salonika and 60,. February 13, 6 p. m., from Salonika, respectively; neither printed.
  4. Dated February 3, p. 225.
  5. Identified also as telegram 66, February 18, 4 p. m., from Salonika, not printed.
  6. Terence G. Glasheen,’ Acting Australian Representative on UNSCOB.
  7. Not printed.