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

888. Ambassador’s statement Nov 18 emphatically denying U.S. involvement in resignation Andreas Papandreou (Embtel 875)2 evoked immediate response from Prime Minister Papandreou, who late last night issued following statement: “I fully agree with statement of U.S. Ambassador. In fact, there was no U.S. Embassy intervention in matter of ministerial change. I, too, express my deep regret that such connection has been made. Besides, there could be no intervention.”

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PriMin’s statement seconding Ambassador’s categorical rejection of charge of U.S. involvement in resignation was signal for cessation of govt press campaign against U.S.; most pro-govt papers today headline denials of U.S. intervention and except for pro-govt Ethnos, which initiated accusation, pro-govt papers imply denials have clarified situation and removed any doubts of U.S. complicity. Typical are headlines of sensational afternoon pro-govt papers Ta Nea and Athinaiki, both of which are usually critical of U.S.; Athinaiki headlines: “No U.S. Intervention in A. Papandreou’s Resignation; Mr. Labouisse Expressed His Vivid Astonishment,” while Ta Nea writes: “U.S. Not Involved.” Unwilling to reverse itself completely, Ethnos suggests Labouisse denial was only “partly” supported by PriMin’s statement, since PriMin said “U.S. Embassy” not involved in resignation, thus suggesting that other U.S. agencies may have played a part.

Opposition ERE press had field day at government expense on subject, with all ERE papers charging that PriMin was remiss in not rejecting charges earlier and that Ambassador’s statement “forced” PriMin to denounce charges. Characteristic of ERE press is headline of influential Kathimerini: “U.S. Ambassador Labouisse amazed that resignation was associated with Cyprus settlement—PriMin was forced to share amazement,” while conservative Acropolis headlines: “Severe reply from U.S. Ambassador Labouisse forced PriMin late last night to retract.” Acropolis added: “U.S. Ambassador’s statement was made when PriMin in his statement in Parliament virtually adopted and made official campaign of two Communist newspapers and of certain govt newspapers with personal ties with Andreas Papandreou against the Americans who were point blank accused of having exerted pressure for resignation of PriMin’s son.”

Comment: PriMin’s failure during Parliamentary debate to denounce charges of U.S. intervention in his son’s resignation—charges which he knew were patently false—is inexplicable. It is possible he was willing to go along with campaign that made his son appear as “victim” of foreign pressure, despite damage he knew it would do to U.S. prestige in Greece, in hope it would detract attention from real reasons for resignation. It is also possible that by billing Andreas as staunch defender of Greece’s independent policies and as defender of Cyprus, the Papandreous hoped to build up Andreas’ political appeal in country as well as within party where he was facing increasing antagonisms. In any event, Ambassador’s statement clearly rejecting U.S. involvement forced PriMin to take stand on issue, which he did by issuing categorical, albeit tardy, denial. His delay in doing so, however, opened him and his govt to opposition charges that he was using charges of U.S. involvement as smokescreen for accusations of scandals involving his son.

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While question of U.S. complicity now appears to be laid to rest as far as Greece is concerned, Archbishop Makarios has invited young Papandreou to visit Cyprus tomorrow. Very probably, Cypriots will attempt to foster myth that Andreas Papandreou fell victim to U.S. “pressure” as result his stand on Cyprus question, and undoubtedly Makarios and Cypriot press will play this for all it’s worth.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15–1 GREECE. Confidential. Repeated to Paris for USRO, Nicosia, and USDOCOSouth for Burris.
  2. Telegram 875 from Athens, November 19, reported the reaction to Andreas Papandreou’s November 11 resignation. (Ibid.)
  3. The Embassy reported on possible causes of Andreas Papandreou’s resignation in telegram 895 from Athens, November 20. (Ibid.)