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

1502. Paris USRO for Gray. For Deputy Under Secretary Murphy. Reference Embtel 1422.2 Tziras of Foreign Ministry (now acting as Chef du Cabinet to Karamanlis) asked me to call this morning and said that Prime Minister had asked him take up with me as matter of urgency present status immunities question.

Prime Minister has learned that opposition leaders intend raise matter in Parliament December 17 and to press him with questions regarding promised negotiations (Embtels 12113 and 12164). In absence any indication from Embassy that instructions received or plausible explanation for delay Prime Minister utterly at loss how to deal with anticipated questions. Unless he can say something concrete, he greatly fears that his political opponents will start agitation for unilateral Greek action such as denunciation of Greek-US agreement of 1953 on military facilities.

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Over 2 months have passed since receipt Department’s message authorizing announcement US will shortly begin formal negotiations and saying “hope transmit instructions negotiate in one week”. Luckily it did not become essential to announce our willingness negotiate until one month ago (November 9). Now we have pushed our own and Prime Minister’s luck to brink. We owe it to Prime Minister to extricate him for posture he assumed in good faith by giving him definite way out by Friday December 16. Moreover, we risk destroying progress we have been making with sincere help of Karamanlis towards reestablishment US-Greek relationship. If we stumble on this one, it can hurt us both seriously.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.56381/12–1355. Confidential; Niact. Repeated to Paris.
  2. In telegram 1422 from Athens, December 6, Thurston informed the Department that in a conversation with Karamanlis, the Prime Minister had expressed his concern about the immunities issue. According to the Embassy, although Karamanlis’ announcement about U.S.-Greek negotiations assuaged both the press and the opposition, “it will take only one serious traffic accident involving U.S. personnel to reactivate unwelcome clamor. This would hurt both U.S. and Karamanlis.” (Ibid., 711.56381/12–655)
  3. Document 290.
  4. Not found in Department of State files.