781.00/3–1752: Telegram

No. 425
The Ambassador in Greece (Peurifoy) to the Department of State


4149. As Dept is aware pro-Govt press is bitterly attacking Americans for our statement of last week1 and all those who favored return to proportional representations system are accusing us of unwarranted intervention. Venizelos told me yesterday he collaborated in preparation Plastiras statement favoring majority system2 and that there was never any intention of presenting proportional system draft law to Parl without first consulting me.

Despite these claims we shld like to reiterate our conviction that Venizelos, Rendis and Palace had determined to rush through proportional representation law within next few days, that they probably had votes to do so and that fait accompli was avoided only through (1) Iosif getting to Plastiras and (2) issuance of Emb statement. It is possible former alone wld have sufficed but in view extreme pressure being exerted on PriMin and precarious state his health he might have yielded at any moment and placed us in position either of seeing law enacted or of coming out publicly under much less favorable circumstances. As for Venizelos there is no question he instructed Rendis to prepare draft law with view to its immed introduction in Parl, in spite of fact we had again and again over many months made known to him our strong feelings re return to proportional system. Although Palace will probably not give up struggle we feel chances of getting such law through Parl now very slim and issue probably dead for time being.

As to question of intervention we have warned all our Grk friends many times in past that issue of electoral system so critical to effectiveness entire US aid program we wld be obliged to state our position publicly if need arose. As relations with Plastiras, Kartalis and Havinis3 during past few months indicate we may expect henceforth as memory of civil war fades and Grk recovery proceeds that resentment at US controls will increase and accusations of intervention multiply. Emb is keenly aware of this natural trend and will endeavor to see to it that our interference is limited to indispensable minimum and carried out as discreetly and inconspicuously as possible. Nevertheless we are sure that Dept and MSA will [Page 790] agree that there are times when our intervention in the interest of US policy and the US taxpayer must be prompt, firm and decisive.

  1. Transmitted in telegram 4108 from Athens, Mar. 14. (781.00/3–1452)
  2. This statement was also transmitted in telegram 4108 from Athens.
  3. Theodore Havinis, Minister of Public Works.