Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Greek, Turkish, and Iranian Affairs (Jernegan)


Subject: American Views on Creation of Eastern Mediterranean Bloc.

Participants: The Greek Ambassador—Vassili Dendramis
Mr. Armour—A–A
Mr. Jernegan—GTI

The Ambassador said that his Government had been thinking of the possibility of forming an entente among Greece, Italy, Turkey, and the Arab states. It was, however, uncertain whether circumstances were such as to make it possible for this bloc to produce any practical results. It seemed to the Greek Government that some form of leadership from the great powers would be necessary. It thought that perhaps the United States and Great Britain might give the necessary support and encouragement. The Ambassador mentioned the British guarantee of Greece in 1939 and suggested that possibly the United States could make some sort of similar declaration guaranteeing Greece and Turkey at the present time.

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Mr. Armour replied that Mr. Tsaldaris had mentioned to him last summer1 the possible formation of an Eastern Mediterranean bloc but had referred to it as something quite far in the future. Frankly, Mr. Armour said, the Department had not given the matter sufficient study to be able to reply in any definite fashion to the Ambassador’s remarks. There were many problems which would have to be studied in this connection. However, the United States would definitely welcome the development of closer relations between Greece and Turkey, Italy, and the Arab states. We thought it would be particularly well for Greece to develop her economic relations with those countries. The Ambassador agreed on this latter point saying that this could be done in any case whether or not it was followed by a political understanding and might prove a good preliminary to a political understanding. In reply to Mr. Armour’s question, he said he believed there were good opportunities for economic contacts among the nations concerned, mentioning shipping especially in this connection.

With respect to the Ambassador’s suggestion of an American declaration guaranteeing Greece and Turkey, Mr. Armour pointed out that the United States was already very closely linked to Greece and giving Greece great support. The Ambassador acknowledged this but said he felt the Russians were probing to see how far they could go without encountering real American resistance. The Soviet satellites were making preparations for further aid to the Greek guerrillas, preparations which might result in a serious attack. He thought it was important to give them clear warning of what they might expect. The Ambassador referred to his recent conversation with the Secretary during which the Secretary had informed him that our Government was preparing a plan of action and had said he would inform the Ambassador as soon as any definite decision was taken. Mr. Dendramis asked whether Mr. Armour could give him any further word in this respect. Mr. Armour said that the matter was being given the closest study by the Secretary personally but that he was as yet unable to add anything to the Secretary’s previous remarks.

In reply to a question regarding the purpose of including the Arab states in a bloc with Greece, Turkey, and Italy, the Ambassador said that the latter three countries could exert their influence with the Arabs to prevent them from following an unwise foreign policy. He said the Arab states were all new and lacking in men with experience in foreign affairs. There was danger that they might be drawn into the Soviet orbit if careful attention were not paid to them. The more experienced statesmen of Greece, Turkey, and Italy could give them guidance. He added that the three countries might also serve as a [Page 43] bridge between the Arab states on the one hand, and Britain and the United States on the other hand.

The Ambassador asked whether we had any information as to the British Government’s ideas with respect to the inclusion of Greece in the Western European bloc recently proposed by Mr. Bevin. Mr. Armour pointed out that Mr. Bevin had made a very good statement, favorable to Greece, in his speech, to which the Ambassador replied that this was true but it had not been made in connection with the proposal to create a Western bloc. Mr. Armour said we had no information as to Mr. Bevin’s thoughts in this regard but were quite sure that the British Government had the strongest possible interest in Greece. We supposed that Mr. Bevin intended to proceed gradually and had not intended in his speech to lay down the extent or limitations of his proposed bloc.

Mr. Armour asked whether the Greek Government was taking steps to increase its economic relations with the various countries of the Near East and especially whether progress was being made in settling the question of reparations with Italy. The Ambassador replied rather emphatically that the reparations question was still unsettled and that Greece must be able to get something concrete in this regard. He added that Greece was engaged in conversations on various other points with Italy, having reached an agreement with regard to the delivery of war criminals for trial, among other things. They were also in contact with Turkey and discussing the possibility of a customs union.

From the manner and general tenor of his remarks, it appeared that the main purpose of the Ambassador’s visit had been to make a further attempt to determine just how far the United States was willing to go in support of Greece. It seemed that he was less interested in the question of an Eastern Mediterranean bloc as such than in suggesting a direct United States guarantee of Greece.

  1. On July 31, 1947; Mr. Armour’s memorandum not printed (868.002/7–3147).