868.002/1–2149: Telegram

The Ambassador in Greece (Grady) to the Secretary of State


138. Mytel 133, January 20. New Sophoulis government while on whole mere reshuffle predecessor governments contains new elements with inclusion Markezinis’ new party and recall of General Papagos to active duty as Commander-in-Chief.1 While some new appointments such as Tsatsos as Minister Education2 are commended, general level cabinet ability does not seem appreciably higher than previous government and criterion of appointment emphasizes party interest rather than outstanding qualifications. However, shock which political leaders received from King in recent crisis and fear that this may be last chance to work out parliamentary solution may cause political leaders to subordinate personal and party interests to common good. Also Sophoulis may now feel that he has stronger mandate and firmer grip on government and thus proceed with social program and more dynamic policy in general. It should be recognized that government is broad coalition including traditionally incompatible elements, hence unanimity will be difficult attain.

Populists have again yielded in relative position and although full control one or two Ministries these are generally speaking of minor importance and Tsaldaris is no longer deputy Prime Minister. Liberals, while not gaining in portfolios, control key positions and Diomedes although nominally independent was strong supporter of elder Venizelos. Sophocles Venizelos who has not placed his key men in government probably will continue uncertain and unreliable element.

In summary, while government is not outstanding in individual ability or of inspiring composition, it does offer some hope for improvement. Greek press and public welcome new government as indicating ending of political crisis and adopt rather cautious passive attitude of approval. I believe US should give government every [Page 242]encouragement in hope it will forget partisan interest and get on with task of saving and rehabilitating Greece. Next following telegram gives clear text of press statement I made today regarding government.3

Sent Department 138, pouched Salonika.

  1. On January 15, Prime Minister Sophoulis submitted his resignation to King Paul. Following 4 days of intensive negotiations among Greek political leaders, agreement was reached on the formation of a cabinet under Prime Minister Sophoulis including representatives from four of the major Greek political parties. In this new Sophoulis cabinet, Alexander Diomedes (no party affiliation) was Deputy Prime Minister, Tsaldaris continued as Foreign Minister, Sophocles Venizelos (leader of one wing of the Liberal Party) and Spyridon Markezinis were Ministers Without Portfolio, and Panayotis Kanellopoulos was Minister of War. At the same time, General Alexander Papagos was recalled from retirement and named Commander in Chief of the Greek Army. The telegram under reference here transmitted the names of the new cabinet sworn in on January 20 (868.01/1–2049). On February 4 the Greek Parliament gave the new cabinet an overwhelming vote of confidence.
  2. Constantinos Tsatos, member of the National Union Party.
  3. The Embassy press statement under reference here, the text of which was transmitted in telegram 139, January 21, from Athens, not printed, expressed approval of the solution of the governmental crisis along parliamentary lines. The statement also emphasized that there had been no intervention by the Embassy to exclude any of the parliamentary parties or their leaders from the new cabinet (868.00/1–2149).