668.811/12–1053: Telegram

No. 335
The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in Greece1

top secret

1937. Appreciate Embassy’s anticipation Greek moves re military aspects Ankara Pact (Athens 1517 and 15242). In addition references set forth, suggest Deptel 423 perhaps also useful as synthesis US position. In summary we are willing and anxious see Tripartite military planning as comprehensive and detailed as possible so long as such planning (1) is consistent with NATO plans and (2) is on contingent basis to become binding only if and when political commitment given. With these provisos we endorse Greek desire move forward along lines indicated in appreciation their concern for their own national security.

Foregoing represents most developed US Governmental position and provides agreed basis for your conversations with Greeks. Following specific comment represents additional Department views and may add useful background.

Procedures have already been worked out for SACEUR to be channel for Greeks and Turks to coordinate with NATO their planning with Yugoslavs, and we assume this procedure is functioning satisfactorily. In specific reference language numbered paragraph 3 Athens telegram 1517, we see no objection provided Greeks do not intend (a) that actual military plans become consummate part of Treaty nor (b) that such “incorporation” would represent agreement to take specific military action automatically should stipulated condition arise. Within this context, we agree that detailed plans should be developed for attack in “common space”; also that “expediency measures” to be taken in case of limited attack, and support measures to be implemented in case of guerrilla fighting, should be worked out and finalized. We observe (Athens telegram 14194) that considerable progress this direction is being made.

Although perhaps contrary to usual procedures, we perceive no valid reason why plans cannot be made and remain contingent, [Page 639]with formal political commitments to be exchanged later to make them binding. Actual taking of formal political commitment at this time, although it may be of value to Ankara nations, does not seem so pressing or important as necessity to accomplish basic detailed and coordinated contingent planning. In fact for purposes of meeting aggression a political decision taken at the first evidence of imminence of aggression could be as effective as a previous made political commitment provided basic planning and coordination had at that time been accomplished. The important element of a commitment for it to be operative is the community of intent to act together in case of aggression. While political expediency at this time obviously conditions and limits progress which can be made towards formal commitment, we believe that benefits in military planning sphere are concrete and can go a long way towards meeting the requirements of Greek and Turkish national security.

Timing as to when and if stage will be reached when contingent character of military planning with Yugoslavs may be dropped is, of course, dependent upon whether it could be done without placing strain upon NATO system and many other factors including Italo-Yugoslav relations. Also as both Greeks and Turks privately (and of course Yugoslavs) know, US, UK and France, will ultimately have to reach decision on recommendation of recent Tripartite/Yugoslav military talks that arrangements be made for Yugoslav–NATO military discussions. Additional piece in puzzle is possible ultimate relation between Italy and Ankara Pact nations. In very real sense these problems all related and will require time in their resolution. Meanwhile, we wish encourage all possible progress within limits dictated by present European political climate.

  1. Drafted by Marcy and Dixon and cleared in EE, RA, WE, and EUR. Repeated for information to Ankara, Belgrade, Paris for USRO Hughes and Reinhardt, Rome for Maffitt, and HICOG, Bonn pass Frankfurt for Satterthwaite.
  2. Telegram 1517, supra ; telegram 1524, Dec. 10, reported that Papagos himself intended to convey the substance of the third paragraph of telegram 1517 to the Yugoslavs, unless the United States had some objection. (760.5/12–1053)
  3. Telegram 42, July 3, instructed Peurifoy to remind the Greeks that the United States remained concerned about a premature attempt to bring Yugoslavia into NATO. (760.5/7–353)
  4. Not printed.