668.811/2–1453: Telegram

No. 324
The Ambassador in Greece (Peurifoy) to the Department of State1

top secret

2465. While Greek-Turk-Yugoslav negotiations are moving smoothly and rapidly along lines we have desired, there would seem to be one aspect which requires serious consideration on our part.

Second numbered paragraph of Deptel 2441, Feb 72 stressed Department’s concern that tripartite military negotiations not result in commitments which could, should Yugoslavia alone be attacked, involve first Greece and Turkey and through them other NATO [Page 622] powers. For this reason it has been Department’s desire that these negotiations, which we have consistently encouraged, be on “contingent” basis.

Embassy doubts whether it is realistic to believe that military negotiations of character already assumed by Greek-Yugoslav conversations can avoid tendency toward creation certain implicit obligations. As Department will have observed from minutes of January meeting,3 there has already been discussion of present disposition of forces and of coordinated deployment of Greek-Yugoslav divisions in case of hostilities. While Ankara meeting next week may be limited to exploring relationship of Turkish Forces, subsequent conversations will tend to ripen into arrangements for joint operations in case of war and to make war plans of each party increasingly dependent on anticipated collaboration of other powers. If one is attacked, it can then allege that planned support of its neighbors is essential to its effective defense.

Not only do we surmise that this will be likely effect of continued Greek-Turk-Yugoslav military negotiations but we also believe that if US, UK and France should attempt to interrupt this evolution at this stage, by insisting that Greeks and Turks avoid undertakings of any sort, effect on Tito would be to revive suspicion, which appeared during Handy conversations,4 that West intends to let him fight alone, while Greeks and Turks also would feel that their much advertised scheme for Balkan defense had been reduced to empty gesture along lines of ineffective prewar Balkan entente.

It is Embassy’s belief that, should Yugoslavs be attacked by Soviet States including Bulgaria, it would be in interest of effective Western defense and hence of US that Greece and Turkey immediately come to her aid. This seems to us very essence of successful Balkan defense, not to mention eventual counter-offensive which Marshal Papagos envisages. Whether some or all other NATO powers would immediately come to aid of those involved under these circumstances, would presumably depend partly on NATO military plans and capabilities and partly on political exigencies. We do not however believe that Greeks and Turks should be urged to limit military conversations in such way as completely to avoid any shadow of commitment. To do so would stultify these conversations. On contrary, we believe that NATO military authorities can take advantage of natural course of these conversations to bring Yugoslavs indirectly within scope of NATO strategical planning in [Page 623] way that may not otherwise be possible for sometime to come, for very reason that Western powers are not presently prepared to make any commitment to Tito and hence can expect only limited collaboration from him.

In formulating US position, we must recognize fact military discussions Greek-Turk-Yugoslav based on convictions shared all participants that major attack on Yugoslavia will lead to general conflict. Were it not for this conviction, doubt seriously whether discussion would have been undertaken on scale planned. It is equally obvious that Greeks counting on US support in event their troops become engaged as result attack on Yugoslavia.

In any case Greeks hope and expect to receive shortly from US guidance as to course which we desire tripartite military negotiations to take and as to manner in which resulting joint plans can be coordinated with NATO planning. We believe Greeks and Turks sincere in their stated determination avoid any infringements their NATO obligations. At same time they may be imperceptibly led farther than they intend. We believe this possibility increases need for NATO or, if that is not feasible, US military to maintain closest liaison with Greek-Turk negotiators and step by step to coordinate tripartite planning with NATO plans.

  1. Repeated for information to Ankara, Rome, Paris, London, Belgrade, eyes only Chiefs of Mission and Senior Military Attachés.
  2. Supra.
  3. Presumably reference is to the minutes of the Greek-Yugoslav military conversations of Dec. 27, transmitted in despatch 801 from Athens, Jan. 10. (768.5/1–1053) For a summary of these conversations, see Document 314.
  4. Regarding the Handy talks of November 1952, see Documents 661 ff.