Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Herbert D. Brewster, Special Assistant to the Chief of the Economic Cooperation Mission to Greece (Porter)
Subject: First Meeting between General Plastiras and Mr. Porter
|Participants:||General N. Plastiras, Prime Minister|
|P. R. Porter, Chief of the ECA Mission|
|Mr. J. Kallerghi,1 Interpreter, Ministry of Foreign Affairs|
|H. D. Brewster, Special Assistant, ECCH|
The Prime Minister opened the meeting by stating that he and his Government wished to work rapidly towards accomplishing the reconstruction of Greece and the improvement of the Greek standard of living; this, he felt, was the best way to fight Communism. He believed that all Greece’s efforts towards reconstruction would make an excellent impression on the western world and especially the United States. They should also impress countries behind the Iron Curtain [Page 368] with the superiority of western democratic methods. He asked Mr. Porter to come to him immediately, and at any hour, if any shortcomings in the efficiency of the Greek Ministries or delays were called to Mr. Porter’s attention, since it was vital to get reconstruction under way promptly in order to create employment. He specifically asked whether the studies had been made so that immediate execution of the works could take place, and secondly whether the Greek Services handling reconstruction effort were adequate.
Mr. Porter expressed his gratitude at having the opportunity to meet General Plastiras for the first time, and stated that the Plastiras Government was well received in the United States because it was considered a Government based on the will of the people. He hoped that with a firm majority in Parliament, this Government would be long lived and stable inasmuch as this was a most important period for the reconstruction of Greece. The Prime Minister responded that he fully recognized that fact and was conscious of his responsibility.
Specifically as to the Prime Minister’s earlier question concerning the plans for execution of the program, Mr. Porter stated that most plans were well prepared, and their execution depended on prompt decisions of the Government to permit their enactment. As to the adequacy of the Greek Services for reconstruction, Mr. Porter stated that on the whole they had been satisfactory.
Mr. Porter emphasized that it would be necessary to move forward rapidly with the financial and administrative reforms set forth in the Ambassador’s letter to Mr. Venizelos of March 312 in order to effect the necessary drachma savings to permit proceeding with the electric power program. The Prime Minister stated that he hoped Mr. Tsouderos3 would capably handle this economic problem. He asked further whether the power program would be started all together provided the necessary drachmae were available.
Mr. Plastiras then described a hydro-electric and irrigation project which he considered of importance on the Megdova River, a tributary of the Acheloos. He stated that in 1929 he had made a survey of this river and had projected a dam with a capacity of 130 million cubic meters, and a fall of 500 meters. He felt this dam alone, which could be completed in 2 years, would make a “garden” out of 200,000 stremmas in western Thessaly. He stated that Mr. Pezopoulos4 had fuller details on the project and he hoped that Mr. Porter would study them with him. With a twinkle in his eye he added that the reason the project had never moved forward was that the lake created was [Page 369] to have been called “Plastiras Lake”, and the succeeding Government didn’t approve the name, in fact had forced him into a 12-year exile.
Mr. Porter stated briefly that two of the reasons for not including the Acheloos power development in the program at this time were that according to the findings of the American engineering firm which had made the power survey this project would be extremely costly and would take 4 years to complete.
The Prime Minister again insisted that Mr. Porter call on him at any time that there was a problem, and re-emphasized that it was his aim to give the Greek people “a piece of bread”, thus fighting Communism most effectively.
Mr. Porter endorsed the General’s views that the Greek peoples’ desires were increased work and hope in the future. He hoped that great steps forward could be made within the next six months, and pointed up that not only work on the dam sites themselves but work on the transmission lines, and in the factories, dependent on cheap power, would provide thousands of new jobs.
Mr. Porter then asked when the Prime Minister thought legislation could be brought to Parliament. The Prime Minister responded that after the Government’s policy statement before Parliament on Monday, April 24, two or three days would be devoted to a discussion of the program, and the vote of confidence. Thus, he hoped that by Thursday, April 27, legislation could be brought before Parliament. The Prime Minister regretted the 40 days which had been lost since March 12, and said that the Ambassador had been right in preparing the letter to Mr. Venizelos.
Mr. Porter stressed the need for making up for lost time. He added that the Mission would never ask the Greek Government to do anything unreasonable, and assured the Prime Minister that any recommendations made would only be in the interest of assuring the most effective use of American aid for permanent improvements.
The Prime Minister concluded the meeting by stating that this was an epoch making period for Greece.