137. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State1
752. Department pass USUN. Attention Baxter (GTI). Deptel 8402 decoded at 11 pm and I talked with Canellopoulos, Deputy Prime Minister, shortly after midnight leaving him at 1:30.
I told him of Under Secretary’s decision and, in course of long discussion punctuated by many bitter but not emotional rejoinders, I marshalled all pertinent arguments. After bringing him away from three successive attitudes, none of which was acceptable even to himself, we centered talk on what might be productive under UK assurances backed by US promises of inducement and assistance (paragraph 4 reference telegram). He said this was only possible stand on which Greek Government would dare to face people if inscription position abandoned. He said these assurances as stated in reftel would be scornfully rejected in present tense atmosphere, and 11th hour pressures in form of promises after recent bitter experiences, would be highly suspect even though personally he, and he thought Stephanopoulos, would like to work with US on that basis. Nonetheless he would ask Stephanopoulos to explore with Secretary whether more specific and concrete proposals can be obtained as only possible alternative government could defend before public.
Note that immediate decision is not possible. Stephanopoulos recommendations must be debated before Council of Ministers and if accepted must have approval of bedridden Field Marshal, itself a major task since he is unable to participate in discussions and [Page 302]perhaps in no condition to grasp some of considerations involved. Message to Stephanopoulos however going forward still tonight. Following are my personal observations:
Department telegram does not take into account gravity of situation here. Reaction to Secretary’s message on Turkish outrages delivered Sunday3 has been most violent and inscription is now basic issue in both foreign and domestic policy. Canellopoulos said flatly and with no hysterics that with abandonment inscription on no better grounds than presented in reference telegram, government would not last one hour and I believe him. That by itself might be tolerable, but the alienation to [of] Greece might not be as temporary as assumed in reference telegram. To me this would be great blow to our entire post-war foreign policy which found both concrete and symbolic expression in Greek-American cooperation leading to expulsion of Communist guerrillas from Greece in 1947–1949. Our intervention in Greece in 1947 marked turning point in steady expansionism of Soviet in post-World War II years. As a symbol of US determination to stand firm against Soviet Communist power, Greece is unique.
Greece, contiguous with Soviet Eastern European bloc, has many historical, religious and cultural affiliations with countries in that bloc. We can hardly assume that given a deterioration in US-Greek relations, Greece could not by process of peaceful infiltration become either a people’s democracy or a neutralist fellow-travelling state. Greece is already the object of a two-sided though not necessarily coordinated campaign from Belgrade and Moscow. Social and economic conditions here are such as to constitute no real obstacle to the loss of Greece to the Communist bloc if we allow our own influence to be destroyed by an insensitive unrealistic policy.
The fall of the present government at this time would open field to leftist and anti-US elements. The more moderate and pro-US political leaders who might under other circumstances form a new government would be completely discredited and silenced. In short, in opposing Greek request for inscription, we take great risk of setting in motion forces which will seriously threaten entire system of security in this part of world without active cooperation of Greece is beyond our comprehension. Spectacle of US abandoning Greece will have worldwide repercussions.
While question of US position in UN generally falls outside purview of US-Greek relations, we cannot help wondering whether taking a position that question which demonstrably is disturbing international peace and security should not be discussed would at some future time come to haunt us in UN deliberations. For example [Page 303]since a year and a half our protestations that we are not opposing self-determination have met only cynical response. Is it not in our interest to maintain the principle in connection with captive nations now under Soviet control on a question which we might one day wish to press within UN framework?
We are equally concerned with possibility that despite efforts of US to prevent inscription of Cyprus issue on UN agenda, question might nevertheless be inscribed by virtue of support that Greece may receive from Afro-Asian, Soviet and Latin Americans. Canellopoulos mentioned this and, as for himself, rejected with disgust the thought that Greece could so be separated from her allies on whom her future welfare as well as her moral standing in world depend. A successor government may well decide differently. If in present strained situation Greeks find they can achieve success for their national effort through support from those countries against opposition of their NATO allies, it is not difficult to conjecture where Opportunistic foreign policy might lead them.