286. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State1

833. Deterioration Greek-Turk relations, failure Cyprus UN appeal, and bitter popular reaction to stand NATO allies, in combination prolonged illness Prime Minister Papagos has provoked domestic political crisis. Crisis expected be brought to head following return tonight of Foreign Minister Stephanopoulos and early changes government leadership seem likely… King now convinced necessity providing solution to replace incapacitated Papagos to achieve active government direction and intends press Rally [Page 546] leaders persuade Papagos to resign. Concurrently, opposition parties applying pressure on King to force early governmental change.

Rally factions have reportedly been discussing idea “provisional” government which would carry country through until elections next year, when pitch popular passions might have abated. Figures mentioned most frequently as possible head such government are Karamanlis, Rhodopoulos (Parliamentary President) and Stephanopoulos. Opposition parties, however, have now indicated that they would consider “provisional” government violation constitution and have demanded as only possible solution present crisis formation “service” government to vote new electoral law, dissolve Parliament, and call immediate elections.

Opposition maneuvers spearheaded by Liberal Democratic Union leader Venizelos’ threat day before yesterday that if any other solution imposed he would resign and ask LDU deputies to follow suit in order force by-elections. Democratic Party has made parallel announcement. Liberal and EPEK parties (who originally proposed mass resignation opposition deputies some months ago) have indicated agreement Venizelos proposal. Communist-front EDA, which has consistently advocated this course, called Venizelos’ proposal “gratifying”. At same time, LDU and Democratic Party are reportedly engaged in negotiations for electoral cooperation on platform to include repeal Greek-U.S. base agreement, general amnesty, and abolition loyalty certificates.

Venizelos scheduled give speech Salonika this Sunday and according some reports, may announce resignations LDU deputies that occasion. On other hand, he has set no specific time limit for solution and unless he takes initiative before mid-November he will have lost opportunity force by-elections (constitution permits by-elections in last year Parliament only in event more than one-quarter Parliamentary seats become vacant). There seems little question that any elections held this time would result strong Leftist gains. This will be important factor in King’s decision on solution crisis.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 781.00/9–2955. Confidential. Pouched to Salonika.
  2. In telegram 844, September 30, Cannon reported that in a conversation with King Paul on September 29, he learned that the King intended to force the resignation of Papagos within the next few days. The Ambassador noted that the King would have preferred to appoint Karamanlis, but all indications pointed to Stephanopoulos as Papagos’ successor. (Ibid., 781.00/9–3055)