501.BB Balkan/6–948: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Greece


751. Grk Amb visited Dept several times recently on instruction to express opinion Grk Govt that attitude delegates drafting UNSCOB report in Geneva is particularly favorable to formulation strong recommendations and that failure take advantage this alleged attitude would be grave error. Among types of recommendations advocated by Grk Govt are (1) further increase in number observer groups, (2) armed escorts for observer groups, and (3) review status present economic relations between members GA and Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. Last type recommendation would contain implied threat that continued [Page 248] violation GA recommendations would result in some form of economic sanctions.

We have stated to Grk Amb our position as summarized Dept’s Balcom 1591 rptd to Athens as 591 that as result current military and political developments any attempt accurately to estimate situation as it will exist in Oct would be extremely difficult. We consider it greatly to our advantage conceal for time being type recommendations we will advocate to GA on basis UNSCOB conclusions. Apprehension in this regard may cause Soviets and satellites continue cautious policy toward Greece and will make it difficult for them prepare their own defenses in advance. With regard economic sanctions, or threat of economic sanctions, we have pointed out that increase in East-West trade is a basic tenet of ERP and that from broader point of view it is doubtful whether the non-Soviet world, including Greece, would profit by this type punitive measure.

US Del in Geneva has reported no strong sentiment for substantive recommendations. It is unlikely we shall revise our position with regard to recommendations. On contrary, recent events have confirmed us in our judgment that substantive recommendations at this time would be tactical error. We have noted with great interest recent statements by Albanian and Bulgarian Govts of willingness resume diplomatic relations with Greece under certain conditions. Reports from Sofia tend confirm this attitude on part of Bulgarian Govt (Sofia’s 655 to Dept rptd Athens as 49 and Sofia’s 662 to Dept rptd Athens as 502). It also seems probable that May 2 Albanian letter to SyG reflects current attitude of Yugo Govt. We suspect self-serving statement in last para May 2 letter concerning Albanian adherence to principles of UN betrays Albanian sensitivity to rebuke administered by UNSCOB on Apr 15 (Combal 1493).

UNSCOB is presently confronted with real challenge to break impasse and bring about conversations between the parties, particularly since neither Albania nor Bulgaria has relented in its attitude toward UNSCOB. We believe there may now be for first time real oportunity for UNSCOB use its good offices improve situation in northern Greece. This opportunity probably results less from sincere desire of northern neighbors for rapprochement than from desire conform to current Moscow propaganda themes, to neutralize anticipated effect of [Page 249] UNSCOB report and possibly to appear detached from Markos sponsorship at moment when his fortunes are at low ebb.

In our view, it would be most unfortunate for UNSCOB to rebuff these first tentative feelers from Albania and Bulgaria by adopting at this time harsh recommendations which may later become necessary. Presumably Albanian and Bulgarian statements, along with recent Markos offer negotiate with Grk Govt, fit in general pattern of current Soviet “peace offensive”. In order maintain tactical initiative and moral advantage, Grk Govt should always remain one step in advance of northern neighbors in developing conciliatory position. In this regard we hope Grk Govt will carefully consider its relations vis-à-vis Albania prior to making definitive statement in response UNSCOB invitation (Combal 1924). We trust Grk Govt will express willingness resume diplomatic relations with Albania as evidence “desire to end tension on Grk-Albanian frontier” referred to in Albanian May 2 letter and without prejudice to territorial claims which both parties would agree to pursue only through peaceful processes. There would seem to be no advantage to Grk Govt in maintaining that state of war continues exist with Albania.

Please discuss with FonMin our general attitude toward substantive recommendations with regard UNSCOB report as set forth in Deptel 591 and our reaction to suggestions of Grk Amb as set forth above.

Sent Athens 751; rptd Geneva 711 (Balgen) 17, Salonika 155 (Balcom) 179, Belgrade 292, Sofia 358, London 2154, Moscow 650.

  1. Dated May 13, p. 245. Mr. Henderson informed Ambassador Dendramis on May 19 of his fear that “the Committee might hesitate to make recommendations that would be in keeping with the seriousness of the facts and conclusions and that consequently there would be a grave temptation to water down the statement of facts and conclusions in order to keep them in line with the relatively weak recommendations which the Committee might be willing to put forward.” (memorandum of conversation, by Mr. Jernegan, 501.BB Balkan/5–1948)
  2. Dated May 30 and June 2, respectively; neither printed.
  3. Identified also as telegram 163, April 17, 10 a. m., from Salonika, not printed.
  4. Identified also as telegram 243, May 29, 2 p. m., from Salonika, not printed.