668.811/2–2053: Telegram

No. 326
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Greece1

top secret

2591. We are concerned at scope of treaty apparently contemplated by both Greeks and Yugoslavs (reference Athens telegrams 2507, 2508, 25092). Yugoslav draft (Articles 2 and 4) and only to lesser extent Greek draft (Article 4 and description of treaty as one “of mutual assistance” in preamble) seems to us to raise very problems which we have all been anxious to avoid: namely imbuing treaty with character of mutual assistance pact, rather than restricting it to friendship and consultation. In order to avoid NATO and other implications, commitment must in our view go no farther than commitment to consult as to such common measures as might be required, and not extend to commitment to lend assistance no matter how qualified by references to United Nations, et cetera. We recognize that there may be merit in argument that political accord has no significance unless formally related to military understandings. We feel however, that there is valid reason for separating two aspects in that international political atmosphere is not such that commitments of this scope may be entered into at this time.

Ambassadors Athens and Ankara are authorized to speak informally with Greek and Turkish Governments, and with their British and French colleagues, in sense of this telegram, impressing upon former that unless it is possible to redraft treaty to exclude element of precise commitment to assist serious problem for all NATO members would be created and, we would see the necessity of consultation with at least our principal and possibly all our NATO allies. If Greeks and Turks are able to persuade Yugoslavs that their mutual purposes might be harmed rather than furthered by inclusion of such language and thus to agree upon modified [Page 625] draft (e.g. first sentence Greek Article 4) we see no reason timetable envisaged by Athens telegram 2519 to Department3 cannot be met. We feel, this connection, that Yugoslavs have put forward their maximum wishes for bargaining purposes and may be prepared accept considerably less.

Although we recognize that draft texts may have been given Embassy Athens in confidence, we feel that this matter is of such major importance that we must consult our British and French allies. Embassies London and Paris therefore authorized give British and French Foreign Offices substance of Athens telegrams 2507, 2508 ( but not 2519), all to Department, as well as of this telegram, expressing our hope that those two Governments will communicate with their Ambassadors in Athens, Ankara authorizing them to consult and concert as appropriate with our Ambassadors in endeavor to bring negotiations back onto acceptable ground. In doing so, of course, our Ambassadors should make it clear that our reservations regarding the actual form of the treaty between the three powers must not be construed as watering down our approval of the concept of Greek-Turk-Yugoslav rapprochement or as placing limits on contingent military talks concerning which our views have already been made known to all concerned.

This telegram for Belgrade information only, although if Yugoslavs raise issue Ambassador may draw upon substance.

  1. Drafted by Marcy and Thurston; cleared by Knight, Wolf, Baxter, Bonbright, and Matthews; and signed for the Secretary by Bohlen. Repeated for action to Ankara as telegram 1073, to Belgrade as 1070, to London as 5611, and to Paris as 4551 and Rome for information.
  2. Regarding telegrams 2507 and 2508, see the editorial note, supra. Telegram 2509, Feb. 20, commented on the implications of both the Greek and Yugoslav draft treaties. (668.822/1–2053)
  3. Telegram 2519, Feb. 20, reported that the Greeks, who were concerned that a delay in the conclusion of a tripartite treaty would have unfavorable effects politically, were amenable to accepting the Yugoslav article on military cooperation as long as Greek and Turkish NATO obligations were stressed in another article. (668.811/2–2053)