781.00/3–2350: Telegram

The Chargé in Greece ( Minor ) to the Secretary of State


639. Entire political situation altered by Venizelos’ breaking his pledge to support Plastiras government. Venizelos is now engaged in forming straight Liberal government which Metaxas claims is assured majority by support rightist parties. This has come as considerable shock to us since we had regarded Plastiras government as having been approved by King and Venizelos. In fact, we have recently been discussing policies and make-up of Plastiras government.

In view imminence of unexpected and illogical Venizelos solution and fact that Ambassador Grady would not return here for 48 hours, I called in Metaxas today to make American attitude crystal-clear to him and to King.

I told Metaxas of Department’s endorsement of views expressed to King by Ambassador Grady and of point made in Deptel 448.1 I [Page 352] said it was regrettable that our views had been disregarded and that alternative solution has been found which could only (1) be regarded as aimed by right to exclude Plastiras and Papandreou from government, (2) make it appear that King has brought about this arbitrary solution, and (3) usher in unnatural government representing 20 percent of electorate and tolerated by parties of right only as long as they see fit. I said we would have no objection to government of this character if it had developed normally out of elections but that unfortunate impression would inevitably be gained that this is an imposed solution to frustrate freely expressed will of people. Further, I asked Metaxas whether he thought Americans here could have confidence in government headed by man like Venizelos who has upset every Cabinet he ever entered and who now callously repudiates his pledged word. He replied that, of course, no confidence can be imposed in Venizelos.

Metaxas rather took line that Venizelos’ solution is not good one but there was no alternative. He said King had acted constitutionally to which I replied that for written record this was case but that Venizelos is saying that he took this course of action at King’s request and because King thinks it will be received better by foreigners than Plastiras government (which I pointed out was contrary to advice given King by Ambassador).

I added that I was embarrassed to speak so frankly on this subject especially in absence of Ambassador but I felt I would be doing injury to Greece by failing without delay to make clear how we feel. He replied that he did not take my remarks amiss but rather appreciated our being frank. He assured me in conclusion that our views will be given serious consideration.

Sent Department 639, repeated Geneva 24 for Ambassador Grady.

  1. Dated March 9; not printed. It stated in part the following: “Dept is cautioning [John A.] Phrantzes [Counselor,] Grk Emb [in the United States] (who believed have close palace ties) re dangers of direct intervention by Crown in polit affairs, especially implementation by King of his stated intention refuse appoint Plastiras or Tsouderos PriMin under any circumstances.” (781.00/3–850)