288. Telegram From the Army Attaché in Greece (Strange) to the Department of the Army1

MID 754, 131630Z October (Army message).

Because new Karamanlis Government has just received vote of confidence which provides it assurance to tackle unsettled problems [Page 548] in Greece,2 here follows detailed account of timely discussion today between new Prime Minister and General J. Lawton Collins. Also present were Admiral Spanides, Acting Chief of NDGS, Lt. General Pallis, Greek MA in Washington and representative to NATO standing group, and USARMA.

PM Karamanlis referred to traditional concept of balance of power among Balkan nations. He then said:

While Greek authorities realize U.S. international relations are complex, Greek people are seriously disturbed when they see disproportionate U.S. aid supplied to their neighbors, Yugoslavia and especially Turkey. Many Greeks regard with trepidation the important role Turkey seems to have in western military and political plans.
Many people believe their past performance as firm adherent to their western alliances warrant greater recognition in increased military aid vis-à-vis their neighbors.
They conclude that perhaps U.S. does not recognize strategic importance and reliability of Greece.

In reply General Collins:

Explained that he was no longer directly connected with U.S. military aid program.
Reviewed decision and circumstances prompting initiation of U.S. aid to Yugoslavia. One basic condition for aid continuation is Yugoslav contribution to western defense, which means effective military cooperation with her western neighbors, Italy and Greece, To Greece this is of great importance because Yugoslav cooperation enables her to base her defense on the very strong strategically important struma position in northern Greece.
With reference to the inference to Turkey as a possible military threat to Greece, he emphasized that war between Turkey and Greece is unthinkable under any conditions present or future. While NATO countries have jointly agreed to come to the defense of any member nation no matter what quarter attack may come from, without or within NATO, the present threat to peace is Russia. Purpose of NATO is to build common defense so strong that Russia would have no temptation to attack.
U.S. military aid to NATO countries is intended to enable those countries to equip armed forces in accordance with NATO requirements for common defense. He then gave brief explanation of difference in defense problems in strategic areas of Greece and Turkey.
He disagreed with any idea that U.S. did not recognize importance of Greece to free world. Best proof was during Communist guerrilla war in Greece when U.S. supplied large amounts of aid to Greece at critical time. Continued interest shown by subsequent [Page 549] aid program extending to present. He believes Greece can always count on U.S. support and interest where needed.

PM changed theme to say:
Greek people solidly feel recent disorders in Turkey were “slap in face” to entire nation. As indicated by U.S. press apparently American people do not appreciate depth of this feeling.
Provocations on 6 September against Greek officers serving in Izmir were really insult to NATO because these Greek officers were NATO officers. NATO authorities should recognize as such and take appropriate action.
Greece badly needed assistance of her allies to persuade Turks take proper steps restore Greek-Turkish relations to proper plane.
General Collins reply:
He understood, and believes U.S. did understand as well, depth of Greek feeling this subject. He could only express his personal regret at such tragic events.
He emphasized his trip had no relation to present relations between Greece and Turkey, that his trip had been planned long prior to events of 6 September.
As military man could not comment on political aspects. Even though making trip as U.S. official, he could not completely disassociate himself with his NATO position and therefore expressed strong hope that Greece would resume full participation in NATO affairs at early date.
In lighter view, PM then referred to political opposition newspapers attacks on himself as “quisling” for not adopting neutralist foreign policy for Greece and for not withdrawing completely from NATO. He said he believed either course was wrong, Greece must adhere to its alliances, but he must take feeling of the people into consideration.

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  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 781.21/10–1355. Secret; Noforn. Sent also to the Department of State, which is the source text. Repeated to the Army Attaché at Ankara, USNMR at Paris for SACEUR, USDOCOSOUTH, USDOCOSOUTHEAST, and the Army Attaché at Belgrade. The information addressees were instructed to pass the telegram to appropriate U.S. Embassies.
  2. In telegram 966, October 13, the Embassy reported, among other things, that Karamanlis had received an “impressive” vote of confidence winning 200 of the 279 votes of deputies present in Parliament. (Ibid.)