303. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, November 15, 19561


  • NATO


  • Constantine Karamanlis Prime Minister of Greece
  • George V. Melas Greek Ambassador
  • Phendon Cavalierato Counselor, Greek Embassy
  • Robert Murphy, G
  • William M. Rountree, NEA
  • C. Burke Elbrick, EUR
  • B. E. L. Timmons, EUR/RA
  • Owen T. Jones, GTI
  • Murat W. Williams, GTI
  • Chalmers B. Wood, GTI

Mr. Murphy stressed that our attitude towards NATO was unchanged and that recent events, especially in Hungary,2 had underlined the continuing need for NATO.

The Prime Minister agreed on the need for NATO, but said that it had been shaken by recent events. He emphasized the need for strengthening NATO and suggested three general needs for improvement: 1) The need to widen NATO’s duties to include political and economic questions, so that the members would come to have the solidarity of a family with common peacetime interests as well as the need of common defense in time of danger. 2) Cyprus is a weakness. “We are in one alliance, but we don’t have the ability or perhaps the courage to tackle this question between three members.”3 Three members have a public dispute which can’t be settled. This is bad for NATO’s reputation. 3) The recent Anglo-French action in Egypt4 is disruptive for NATO. Many members of NATO disapproved of these actions. If some procedure can’t be found for settling these disagreements, the US should take the lead and attempt to “discipline” some of the members by “persuasion”. The US is in a good position to do this since its prestige was never higher.

Mr. Murphy agreed that something needed to be done, but indicated the difficulties especially if the United States appeared to try and force other members. He hoped that the report of the Three [Page 578] Wise Men5 would contain some suggestions. He pointed out that the members were democracies which did not take lightly to dictation. He suggested that formal debates in the North Atlantic Council would not be apt to settle differences and suggested that the United States could be more useful by informally offering its good offices.

The Prime Minister said he was not attempting to make specific suggestions but commented that any democracy which joined an alliance must surrender some of its sovereignty. Democracy must not be allowed to drift into license.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 740.5/11–1556. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Wood on November 20.
  2. Reference is to the Hungarian rebellion during the fall of 1956.
  3. Karamanlis discussed Cyprus with Holmes and Thurston on October 5; see Document 200.
  4. Reference is to the Anglo-French air bombardment of Egyptian installations in the fall of 1956.
  5. Reference is to the committee of three appointed by the Intergovernmental Conference for the Common Market and EURATOM in late October 1956.