781.00/2–752: Telegram

No. 419
The Chargé in Greece (Yost) to the Department of State


3613. Fol is substance of conversation with Venizelos today.

In response to his query as to our views of polit situation, I replied we are frankly losing confidence in ability present govt to provide necessary stability in mil, econ and security fields, and outlined principal causes our dissatisfaction. Venizelos declared he also deeply dissatisfied but doubtful what to do. He was very apprehensive elections under majority system since his friends wld desert him if he collaborated with Papagos and he himself had not collaborated with Plastiras. He would therefore probably be obliged to abstain. We referred to possibility Rally-Lib coalition without elections. He said he personally wld not be averse to such coalition and felt after his last conversation with Papagos marshal might also agree. However, public must be offered some reasonable excuse for overthrow of govt and he did not consider excuse yet exists. He is most reluctant confirm his reputation as “destroyer of govts.”…

We replied we recognize these dangers and were not attempting to precipitate matters but were deeply disturbed by developments in three above-mentioned fields and feared moreover that, if affairs were allowed to drift too long, further incidents might arise which wld make understanding between Libs and Rally extremely difficult or impossible. We therefore urged he continue his conversations with Rally and arrive at understanding which might be implemented [Page 781] when favorable occasion arose. Venizelos agreed and said he intended meet Papagos within next few days. He added however, that if ratifications completed in time, he felt he must as For Min attend Lisbon NATO mtg since it will be first for Greece.

(Though Venizelos saw King yesterday, we are not certain whether favorable attitude toward coalition with Rally has King’s blessing or is merely his own preference which he wld abandon under pressure. King met Papagos secretly last night and we expect be able tomorrow to report outcome conversation.)1 Re Kitrilakis, Venizelos he stated usual story about involvement with IDEA and hostility brother officers and we replied as we had to King and Sakellariou. Venizelos said wld be extremely difficult restore to former position or send to NATO officer who had lost confidence of colleagues. He suggested possible compromise might be to remove both Kitrilakis and Tsakalotos from present commands and send latter to NATO. We replied this might be considered but emphasized we felt some significant post must also be found for Kitrilakis.

We shall discuss this last suggestion with Gen Hart and submit our views tomorrow.2 It is probable Grks exaggerate importance their mil rep to NATO and wish have politically trustworthy character in this spot. From our point of view it might be convenient means easing Tsakalotos out of present position. However, it is not yet clear whether King has approved this suggestion.

  1. For previous documentation on this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. V, pp. 445 ff.
  2. Telegram 3660 from Athens, Feb. 9, reported that General Hart and the Embassy were inclined to believe that if the government actually proposed to send Tsakalotos to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, “we shld seize opportunity to get him out of [the Greek] Gen Staff provided (1) his replacement is satisfactory and (2) some soporific post is found for Kitrilakis.” (781.00/2–952)