781.00/3–1550: Telegram

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


549. I saw the King1 today at his request. He said he wished to inform me of his thinking and probable action with regard to the formation of the new government. He outlined his conception of a solution which was identical to that suggested to me last Friday by [Page 346] Metaxas2 and the day before by Metaxas to Minor.3 It is the “solution” that the Populist Party and the Palace have been seeking to effect, that is, the giving of the mandate to Venizelos who would seek the assistance of Papandreou and Canellopoulos in the formation of a government which Tsaldaris would support in Parliament and which he (the King) understood Plastiras would also support. He said, further, that he had seen Venizelos yesterday, and Venizelos, despite his agreement with the other three members4 of the proposed center government, was prepared to throw them over and form a government if he thought he could succeed in doing so. According to the King, Venizelos is endeavoring to do so at this time.

I then spoke very frankly to the King and said that Venizelos was probably the most likely of the center group to give trouble as evidenced by his willingness to betray them by what he said to the King. I explained our position to the King and said that I felt the center solution under Plastiras as Prime Minister was logical and reflected the will of the people as shown in the election.5 I said that any other attempted solution would not be stable and would bring criticism on the Palace because it would be known that the instigation had come from there. We would consequently be faced by a period of political confusion. King said that he feared my government would become disgusted with the Plastiras regime and withdraw aid. I told him that on the contrary my government fully approved the policy we here had been following and would be disturbed more at political confusion than it would at a solution which made Plastiras Prime Minister. I pointed out that I felt the long-term effects on the country and the King of the by-passing of Plastiras would be to force him into the arms of Sofianopoulos and the result would be a strong leftist group which might ultimately take over political control in the country. He seemed to be influenced by what I said, but commented that if he did accept the Plastiras solution, he would exact two conditions: first, that there be no slanting of foreign policy toward Russia, and second, that there be no effort to harm the army. I remarked that on both points they had given their assurances and that specifically with the powers he has, General Papagos could protect the army’s interests. I said that we had had assurances indirectly from Plastiras and others in the center group that they would work with the Western Democracies in foreign policy and that they had no intention of endeavoring to destroy the army.

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My discussion with him was most cordial, but completely frank. I hope that he will not make what I would regard as a serious blunder by toying with alternative solutions which would tend to frustrate the will of the people as expressed in the elections. I pointed out further the dangers of delay in the forming of the government.

  1. Paul I, King of the Hellenes.
  2. No record of a meeting on March 10 between Col. Aristides S. Metaxas, Chief of the King’s Political Bureau, and Ambassador Henry F. Grady was found in Department of State files.
  3. No record of a meeting on March 9 between Col. Aristides S. Metaxas and Harold B. Minor, Counselor of Embassy in Greece with rank of Minister Plenipotentiary, was found in Department of State files.
  4. Gen. Nicholas Plastiras, Emmanuel Tsouderos, and George Papandreou.
  5. See the editorial note, p. 341.