326. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State 0

106. Reference: Embdes 1106, June 24, 1959.1 Following telegram prepared by Berger and Horner in process when I arrived:2

From variety sources evidence accumulating Grivas planning possibly in few days or weeks, almost certainly in next three-six months to enter political arena. This now almost main subject local comment, rumor and gossip. Following are latest developments which have come to Embassy’s attention.
Averoff told Berger July 8 Makarios and Grivas relations strained since London settlement now rapidly deteriorating. He believes Makarios press interview criticizing Grivas true, despite Makarios denial.3 Said Makarios this week sent scorching letter to Grivas complaining of his attitude toward Cyprus matters which has infuriated Grivas. Comment: Rumor circulating today Grivas will declare himself publicly against Makarios within few days.
Averoff also told Berger relations between Grivas and Karamanlis worsening, and Averoff saw Grivas July 8 for full discussion situation. Said his personal relations with Grivas excellent and he utilized this to advise Grivas abjure politics at this time and hold himself in reserve as possible replacement for Karamanlis should need arise. (Comment: We have had indication from Rodopolous Speaker of House King has passed same advice to Grivas, and even gone so far as to warn Grivas Karamanlis enjoys King’s confidence, and King will be forced oppose Grivas should he enter active politics at this time.)
In replying to Averoff Berger said Embassy understands Grivas bitterly anti-Turk and anti-British, is critical of government’s “servility and subservience to foreign powers” (i.e. US) and threatens upset Cyprus settlement. Averoff said our information correct and if Grivas held reins of power it would throw Greece into chaos and be an utter disaster. Averoff continued saying if Grivas can be kept from entering politics for another six months, Cyprus would than be on verge of independence and Grivas star would wane. However if there was blow-up in Cyprus, major government scandal, acute worsening economic situation, or should Karamanlis die or be unable carry on, or other external circumstances whole atmosphere here would change, in which circumstances Grivas would have his chance and nothing could stop him coming to power however grave consequences would be for Greece and its relations with main allies.
Averoff said Karamanlis concerned over Grivas emergence, but regards Grivas as political babe in arms and confident he can deal with any Grivas threat. Averoff said while he thought there was good chance of containing Grivas he was not as optimistic as Karamanlis.
For some considerable period GOG and Karamanlis personally have manifested unmistakable signs uneasiness over Embassy contacts with various and heterogenous opposition elements. Prospective political surfacing of Grivas has accentuated this uneasiness, and within last ten days Averoff has on two occasions spoken to Berger, and this week Rodopolous spoke separately to Berger and Horner on the dangers inherent in these contacts which anti-government elements are misusing to spread rumors that US dissatisfied with Karamanlis and not averse to change. They were assured that US thinks Greece has been well-served by Karamanlis government and that we [will] make this clear whenever the need or occasion for doing so arises.
As Department aware there is pronounced Greek propensity to read into words and actions of “American factor”, however innocent, portents which simply do not exist. Given this tendency, [1 line of source text not declassified] potential advent of Grivas on political scene has enhanced GOG sensitivity. Embassy proposes as in past to maintain its contacts with opposition for purposes intelligence, but will reduce their [Page 789] frequency. On other hand, we are more than cognizant of dangers to US policy objectives inherent in Grivas ascendancy and will be most cautious in avoiding any implication that we favor him in slightest. Our posture must be one of apparent neutrality and non-intervention. We must bear in mind however that Grivas could reach power, and we must be sufficiently flexible to be able out-step his animus if that rather unpleasant (and, at this reading, not likely) eventuality should occur.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 747C.00/7–1059. Secret; Limit Distribution; Noforn. Repeated to Paris for USRO, London, Nicosia, and Ankara.
  2. Despatch 1106 from Athens reported on the possible disruptive effects on Greek politics of the entry into public life of Grivas. (Ibid., 781.13/6–2459)
  3. On March 17, the President appointed Ellis O. Briggs as Ambassador to Greece, replacing Riddleberger who became Director of the Mutual Security Agency on March 3. Riddleberger left Athens on May 20 and Briggs arrived on July 7 and presented his credentials to King Paul on July 15.
  4. In an interview published in The Washington Star, July 5, Makarios warned that he, not Grivas, would govern Cyprus and that right-wing political organizations must abide by democratic rules.