611.81/5–2853: Telegram

No. 444
The Ambassador in Greece (Peurifoy) to the Department of State


3476. Subject: May 27 conversation of Secretary and Mr. Stassen with Prime Minister1 and other members Greek Government.

Secretary and Prime Minister.
In conversation May 27 which lasted one hour Prime Minister:
Expressed appreciation United States leadership in struggle against USSR and personal contribution Secretary and stated Greek Government and people prepared make any sacrifice required to protect independence and support common defense effort.
Emphasized importance public psychology and need free people be prepared new sacrifices. Greek people understand that geographic location and strength adversaries require them make sacrifices in support of extraordinary large forces. Strong, homogeneous government has not hesitated take unpopular and even harsh measures when required.
Expressed deep concern that unless free nations are united and pursue objectives through common firm policy, Soviets may succeed efforts shatter unity Allies or in disrupting rhythm rearmament. Recent Soviet tactics should be met with reserve. Considered [Page 835] it significant that Bidault, who visited Athens after Churchill foreign policy speech,2 stated indications allied disunity should be avoided all costs.3
Re military cooperation with Yugoslavia and Turkey, stressed role Balkan front would occupy in event hostilities, pointing out that given matériel support, front could become theater of active operations threatening flank Soviet Armies Europe. Italian-Yugoslavian rapprochement would further strengthen area. His conversations with De Gasperi4 and Popović5 indicate they both appreciate value such rapprochement and Prime Minister believes Trieste situation may improve after Italian elections.
Strong plea for representation in MEDO, “at least symbolically as in Korea”. If not represented in some capacity, Greek people would react unfavorably. Problem will be more difficult if headquarters established Cyprus. Government following realistic policy re Cyprus, but no Greek Government can afford ignore this issue.
Secretary in turn extended greetings President, cleared with Prime Minister invitation King and Queen visit United States in fall,6 expressed thanks for new Embassy site, referred conversations with Markezinis7 (this came at close of meeting and there was no opportunity discuss economic questions although Prime Minister remarked that economic aid could not continue indefinitely and that Greece only wanted assistance to permit it become self-supporting) and made following substantive comments:
Personal letter from Prime Minister to President.8 Expressed President’s deep appreciation these proposals and said United States views would be forthcoming. In particular United States appreciates offer augment Greek forces Korea; decision will depend on current discussions Korea. When Papagos observed that “borders of Greece are where fighting is going on”, Secretary commented on fine spirit Marshal which, if shared by others to same extent, would strengthen free world.
Soviet Union. United States recognizes possibility fundamental change, but evidence to date indicates change tactics only. These tactics designed weaken resolution free nations and should be thwarted. Prime Minister agreed.
Re Prime Minister reference to “rhythm of rearmament”, Secretary stated adjustments in United States defense budget designed achieve rate rearmament which can be sustained over period time. President Eisenhower in 1951 had expressed philosophy of relationship between military forces and productive capacity behind them. Some slight adjustment may be necessary to achieve balance. This became United States policy after elections. United States still devoting 60 percent budget to defense, but wishes avoid inflationary prices which would make maintenance defense effort impossible. Not by single dollar do United States budget adjustments reflect weakening defense effort in response recent Soviet tactics. Morale factor, which Prime Minister correctly rated of great importance, also requires that attention be focused not only on defense buildup, but also on economic and financial factors.
MEDO. During course trip Secretary gained impression MEDO will proceed slowly and therefore, it not yet in order consider site of headquarters. If there should be consideration of site which has so much historical significance Greece, views Greek Government will be considered.
British-Egyptian difficulties present very disturbing problem and we must all exert maximum influence prevent hostilities. Prime Minister readily agreed.
Secretary expressed appreciation for Greek initiative in strengthening Balkan defense and agreed with concept of offensive strategy.
US appreciation of fact Greece has strong government capable of making important military contribution and of taking necessary action economic field.

During conference Foreign Office Minister and Ministers Coordination, National Defense, Commerce and Finance, Secretary again emphasized necessity find proper balance between economic and military effort.9 Stressed United States welcome economic planning by Allies which would permit cessation United States aid. Stassen pointed out Greece presently in strong position because of large pipeline of military and economic aid from previous appropriations. Economic aid could be used start new capital investment projects where projects approved and within limits of funds available. Pointed out that present administration as matter of policy relies on private sources to finance capital investment programs to maximum extent and that while interest United States in future economic and military developments continues, major responsibility rests on people and government in Greece.

Minister National Defense made plea for re-examination of growing Greek military expenditures resulting NATO obligations and for additional equipment for Greek Army which was to serious disadvantage [Page 837] vis-à-vis Bulgarian forces, particularly in regard tanks and artillery.

Aide-mémoire setting forth Greek views on MEDO submitted at conclusion conference.10

  1. For a memorandum of conversation by Schnee, May 27, on Dulles’ meeting with Papagos, see vol. ix, Part 1, p. 154.
  2. For Churchill’s speech in the House of Commons, May 11, see H.C. Debs., 5th series, vol. 347, col. 883; extracts in Documents (R.I.I.A.) for 1953, p. 57.
  3. The statement by Bidault, who visited Greece on May 15, has not been further identified.
  4. De Gasperi visited Greece, Jan. 8–12, 1953. During his stay in Athens, he had discussions with Papagos and Stephanopoulos and was received by King Paul. (Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, 1952–1954, vol. IX, p. 12082)
  5. Popović’s conversation with Papagos has not been further identified.
  6. During his visit to Greece, Dulles extended on behalf of Eisenhower an invitation to the King and Queen to visit the United States in the autumn of 1953. (Department of State Bulletin, June 8, 1953, p. 818)
  7. Regarding Markezinis’ visit to the United States, see Documents 438442.
  8. See footnote 2, Document 439.
  9. For a memorandum by Anschuetz, May 27, on Dulles’ meeting with Stephanopoulos, Tsouderos, Kanellopoulos, Thanos Kapsalis, Minister of Commerce, and Constantine Papayiannis, Minister of Finance, see vol. ix, Part 1, p. 160.
  10. Dated May 27, it emphasized the importance of Greek participation in any Middle East defense organization. (611.80/5–2953)