283. Memorandum From the Secretary of State’s Special Assistant for Intelligence (Armstrong) to the Secretary of State1


  • Intelligence Note: Greece Moving Toward Political Stalemate

Greece has been without effective political direction since Prime Minister Papagos became seriously ill nearly six months ago. The two Vice Premiers, the Minister of War Canelopoulos and of Foreign Affairs Stephanopoulos, have been competing, though … for the leadership of the Greek Rally, the conservative coalition now in power. The Ministerial Council—the body which expresses collective governmental authority—apparently has had no real meetings for the past three or four months, although actions are being taken in its name. Its members are resentful of one another. Each of the Ministers acts independently of any central direction. Other factions within the Government are also jockeying for a position of power.

At the same time, a secret military group appears to be influencing part of the government from behind the scenes, and has come to dominate some branches of the administration. This para-governmental group, known as Sacred Bond of Greek Officers (IDEA), is [Page 541] now in control of the Army, Air, and probably the Navy, guards the ailing Prime Minister, influences the Cabinet, and seeks to guide the Palace. The opposition parties are publicly committed to disbanding IDEA if or when they come to power.

Indications are that the Palace is uncertain how to evaluate the political outlook in Greece and is undecided on what to do if Papagos withdraws or dies. Papagos’s departure is likely to take place before new elections are due in November 1956. Yet, while the political leadership of the party in power has lost its vitality, the political opposition of the center—the Liberal Party under Papandreou and the Liberal Democratic Union under Venizelos—appears at present unable to capture the initiative.

The current relaxed international atmosphere in Greece has given the left wing parties an impetus, and provided the stimulus for an upsurge in Communist political activity. The Communist-controlled United Democratic Left (EDA) has become more articulate and outspoken in pressing for a “Democratic or Patriotic Front.”

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 781.00/8–1755. Confidential. Transmitted through the Executive Secretariat.