Memorandum of Conversations, by the United States Representative on the United Nations Special Committee on the Balkans (Patterson)

Participants: (in successive conversations):
Ambassador George Allen,1 American Ambassador to Yugoslavia;
Mr. Adrian Colquitt, 2nd Secretary at American Embassy, Belgrade;
Mr. Constantine Tranos, Deputy Chief, Greek Liaison Service with UNSCOB;
Mr. Jefferson Patterson, U.S. Representative on UNSCOB.

Subject: Greeks detained in territories of northern neighbors, with especial reference to Yugoslavia.

Ambassador Allen held the opinion that, if the prospective Greek Government (to come into office following the elections of March 5, 1950), which promised to be a combination of elements not distasteful to the Yugoslav authorities, would boldly make an unconditional gesture of amity toward Yugoslavia with the announcement of appointment of an outstandingly able personality as Minister or, preferably, Ambassador to Yugoslavia, the chances are that Yugoslavia would be prepared to return many of the children now detained in Yugoslav territory.2

In relation to other categories of Greeks who might be detained in Yugoslavia, Ambassador Allen expressed the belief that there were few, if any, military of the Greek National Army among these, so that the problem of their repatriation would hardly arise in connection with improved Greek-Yugoslav relationships. He wondered if the Greeks really cared very much about the return of guerrillas, and indeed was inclined to hold that, if the Greeks actually knew how thoroughly indoctrinated with Communist tenets the children were becoming (information supplied the Ambassador by a UNICEF representative in Yugoslavia who was in touch with the children), [Page 350] the authorities at least, as distinguished from the parents, might not be so eager to have them back.

On my inviting the Ambassador’s attention to the interest shown by UNSCOB in expediting the release of the children from Communist clutches, and their removal to third countries such as Switzerland or Italy under safeguards provided by UN agencies, the Governments of those countries or perhaps the International Red Cross Committee, the Ambassador replied to the effect that, in view of the expected rather rapid improvement in Greek-Yugoslav relationships, it would be well to let the two principals argue the matter of international refugees out between themselves rather than to interpose any other machinery immediately. If the two parties could not get together, then the intervention of third parties, and suggestions regarding the removal of the children to third countries, would seem to be in order.

On my mentioning a suggestion informally made in the Department to the effect that, if all else failed, recourse might be had to the “Angus Ward3 technique”,4 Ambassador Allen felt that it would be a last resort, agreeing that this technique, while effective in the case of the American Consul-General at Mukden, would lose its force if employed too frequently.

Mr. Colquitt, whom I saw on another occasion during Ambassador Allen’s brief pause in Athens, felt that UNSCOB, in view of the attitude of the Yugoslavs toward the Special Committee, should carefully refrain from appearing in the picture, and that the Greeks and Yugoslavs could probably be allowed to discuss their problems without outside intervention at the present time.

Mr. Tranos, who had spoken to Mr. Aglion5 following the latter’s return from Geneva, was more depressed on the subject of the children than either of the Americans consulted. He hoped—although from his manner of speaking hardly expected—that the prospective visit of a Red Cross representative to verify the bona fides of the applications for return of 136 Greek children now in Czechoslovakia would result in their repatriation.

As for the camps of international refugees now in Greece, the IKO would presently withdraw its support. He did not know what would [Page 351] happen to the “hard-core” inhabitants of these camps, but supposed that some UN organization would take care of them. He did not seem to feel that it was the responsibility of the Greek Government. I understood from a recent talk by Mr. Stevens of the IRO,6 before the Special Committee, that aged and ill persons in the camps would continue to receive support from the UN if not from remaining IKO funds.

Mr. Tranos evinced more anxiety over the steady infiltration of refugees from the Soviet-dominated portion of eastern Europe. These people had drifted across many frontiers and had finally come to Greece. While their number was not large, there seemed to be a steady trickle of persons from Eastern Europe who were becoming a burden for the Greek Government. Mr. Tranos stated that, when such refugees could not enter Greece, he understood that the Yugoslavs undertook to expel them in the direction of Italy via Trieste. These eastern Europeans were accordingly becoming a burden for Italy, as they threatened to become for Greece.

J. Patterson
  1. Ambassador Allen visited Athens from March 19 to March 22.
  2. Documentation concerning the exchange of Ministers by Greece and Yugoslavia and on the repatriation of Greek children detained in Yougslavia is scheduled for publication in volume iv.
  3. Former Consul General at Mukden. Documentation on problems of the United States consulates general in areas occupied by the Chinese Communists is presented in Foreign Relations, 1949, volume viii , and the Department of State Bulletin, November 28, 1949, p. 799.
  4. Leonard J. Cromie, in a conversation with Paul Economou-Gouras, Minister of the Greek Embassy in Washington, on January 9, said “he had thought in a preliminary way” about trying the “Angus Ward technique” whereby all diplomatic missions in countries harboring Greek children would appeal to the foreign ministries concerned for the repatriation of the children (memorandum of conversation, January 11, by Mr. Cromie; 781.00/1–1150).
  5. Raoul Aglion, Principal Secretary of the U.N. Special Committee on the Balkans.
  6. Reference is to a statement before the U.N. Special Committee on the Balkans at Athens on March 3, by David C. Stephen, Chief of the International Refugee Organization Mission to Greece (U.N. doc. A/AC.16/SR.184).