768.5/12–3152: Telegram

No. 314
The Ambassador in Greece (Peurifoy) to the Department of State1

top secret

2013. Noforn. No distribution outside Department. Following information re Greek-Yugo military conversations2 supplied by Minister [Page 601]Defense and Deputy Chief NDGS. Full minutes will be made available to us as soon as transcription completed.3

Yugos desire formal tripartite agreement with Greece and Turkey that others will assist in case of attack upon any one of parties. Agreement would include concrete details as to use of forces in case of war. Yugos proposed inclusion arrangements for operation of Greek forces in Yugo and vice-versa. At outset conversations Yugos inquired whether Greeks would be prepared to sign agreement even without Turks but, after receiving later report from Belgrade re concurrent Turk-Yugo conversations, Yugo delegate appeared encouraged that Turks would participate.4

Greeks informed Yugos their government would have to study question of defense agreement. Yugos pressed for prompt further meeting at higher level at which decision might be reached but no date was fixed. Greeks can easily stall till after De Gasperi visit but may find it difficult to do so thereafter. They expect to keep closely in touch with Turks and hope Turk Foreign Minister will stop off Athens after Belgrade visit about January 10.5

Greeks are puzzled by urgency with which Yugos are pressing for this agreement, particularly since Yugo delegate which visited Athens in September did not raise question and appeared to consider threat of war not imminent. Greeks advanced to us three hypotheses in possible explanation of change in Yugo attitude.

First is that Yugos may have received new information re Soviet intentions or preparations. However, while stating they consider danger of war more imminent, Yugos cited to Greeks no new evidence to support this contention.

Second hypothesis was that General Handy might have asked Yugos to come to agreement with Greeks and Turks. Greeks consider this unlikely, first, because we have said nothing to them of such request and, second, because they have impression from Yugos that talks with General Handy did not go very deep. One Yugo General remarked: “He asked much and told little.” Chief of delegation said Yugos had not told Handy much about their forces since he had not told them much about his. On other hand, Greeks [Page 602]were well satisfied with extensive information supplied them by Yugos about state and disposition of Yugo forces and fortifications.

Third hypothesis was that Yugos desire firm agreement with Greece and Turkey to strengthen their position vis-à-vis Italy. Greeks impressed by unanimity with which high-ranking Yugos refer to “Italian imperial ambitions.” Greeks are endeavoring to bring Yugos and Italians closer together and Papagos will inform De Gasperi during forthcoming visit he considers Yugo cooperation essential to defense of Northern Italy. However, Papagos was misquoted by press (Embtel 2001 December 306) in referring to Italian participation in Greek-Turk-Yugo talks and he assured Yugos he made no such reference.

According Minister Defense, Greek Government would be disposed to sign defense agreement with Yugo, if to do so would not conflict with their NATO obligations. They would appreciate receiving United States views soonest in order be able resume conversations with Yugos after middle of January. Greeks hope it would not be necessary obtain formal approval all NATO countries since some might be reluctant, though Greeks consider definite commitment from Yugo, even though limited to Greece and Turk, would be clearly to advantage all NATO countries. Greeks would expect to work out very carefully in consultation with us exact character of obligation which they might assume.

Peurifoy
  1. Repeated for information to Belgrade, Ankara, London, Paris, Rome, and Frankfurt, eyes only Chiefs of Mission and Senior Military Attachés.
  2. Regarding these conversations, see Document 311.
  3. The full minutes of the conversations held on Dec. 27 were transmitted in despatch 801 from Athens, Jan. 10, 1953. (768.5/1–1053)
  4. Telegram 880 from Belgrade, Dec. 22, reported that the Turkish military delegation then visiting Belgrade (see Document 311) had decided, with encouragement from Ambassador Allen, to set forth a plan for Turk-Yugoslav military cooperation. (768.5/12–2252) Presumably it was a report of this that persuaded the Yugoslav delegate at the talks in Athens that the Turks would join a Greek-Yugoslav military agreement.
  5. Regarding the visits of Köprülü to Belgrade and Athens in late January and early February, see Document 311.
  6. Telegram 2001 reported that Papagos in a press interview had expressed the hope that Italy would later be permitted to participate in any Balkan military arrangement which might be negotiated. (660.44/12–3052)