668.881/2–2653: Telegram

No. 327
The Ambassador in Greece (Peurifoy) to the Department of State1

top secret

2576. Stephanopoulos last night expressed to us some concern at Popovic attitude after initialling tripartite agreement. He said Yugoslav Foreign Minister was bitter at outcome of controversy over drafting and had declared that “great powers” do not fully understand importance of this part of world nor necessity of organizing its defense on concrete and firm basis.

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It was clear that Greeks and Turks had made apparent to Yugoslavia that they were revising critical paragraphs at insistence of United States and United Kingdom and that Popovic has resented our intervention. It also may be that, since Papagos and Stephanopoulos desired to go further than we desired, latter may have been overplaying Yugoslav dissatisfaction, as we have no other evidence that they were not on whole reasonably content.

Following line set forth Belgrade’s 1209, February 23 to Department,2 we pointed out that we are, of course, fully aware of importance organizing defense of Balkan area and that our concern has been lest unnecessary apprehensions be raised among NATO members by premature and hasty action. Stephanopoulos replied that he fully understood but hoped that we would make this clear to Yugoslavs. I said that I was sure our Embassy Belgrade would do so.

General Dovas informs us that military conversations in Ankara went smoothly and that full text of minutes3 will be transmitted to us as soon as translated. He said sum of conversations was essentially to bring Turks up to point reached by Greeks and Yugoslavs at Athens meeting in January. He added that both Yugoslavs and Turks are pressing for more concrete understandings at next meeting and that he felt that meeting should be delayed until it is clear how far military representatives will be authorized to go. He said, for example, that Turks are prepared to agree that an attack against one shall be considered an attack against all, to which Dovas had replied that this is matter for political decision.

We feel that this trend emphasizes importance of United States, United Kingdom and French deciding earliest how far these tripartite military conversations should go and giving appropriate guidance to Greeks and Turks. As we see it, basic question is whether Yugoslavs can or cannot be given any assurance that, in case of attack, they can count on Greece and Turkey implementing joint war plans which are now being worked out among three General Staffs.

  1. Repeated for information to Paris, Belgrade, Ankara, Rome, and London.
  2. In telegram 1209, Allen urged that the Yugoslavs be assured that the removal of the military provisions from the draft treaty was being recommended only for reasons of timing, in view of the sensibilities of certain NATO members, and not because the United States opposed the principle of Balkan military cooperation. (668.881/2–2653)
  3. The minutes were transmitted in despatch 1048 from Athens, Mar. 12. (768.5/3–1253)