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

123. Re Embtel 122.2 Embassy’s current position regarding solution present political crisis,3 which we have coordinated [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], is as follows:

Situation has not developed to point where U.S. attitude might be decisive. Consequently we are endeavoring to maintain greatest possible discretion.
In circumstances where we felt it might be helpful, we have privately expressed view Novas solution which, though not very promising, at least has advantage some declared adherents, would not be prematurely abandoned.
With regard Stephanopoulos, we have noted this formula depends upon willingness of Stephanopoulos, certain other C.U. leaders, and particularly such newspapers as Vima, Nea and Makedonia to force acceptance this solution on Papandreou or proceed without him. Unless and until support these elements is definitely acquired it would [Page 425] be dangerous to abandon Novas. In principle we have no objection to Stephanopoulos or “Stephanopoulos plan”, which in theory would preserve a wider measure of unity in C.U.
We have not demonstrated any enthusiasm for new effort to find compromise between King and Papandreou. This would probably leave Papandreou in even more powerful position in C.U. Moreover, it is highly unlikely King would consent. We recognize, however, Papandreou may yet emerge victor and that we may have to live with him. We are endeavoring avoid actions which might prejudice U.S. position in this eventuality.

Given incredibly sensitive political acoustics in Athens and virtuosity of Greek talent for misrepresentation and distortion, Embassy position is constant subject for local exploitation. For example: King has been quoted as saying I discouraged Stephanopoulos from forming or joining government following Papandreou resignation; rightist elements have charged that U.S. is no longer interested in fighting Communism; Andreas Papandreou told me he knows Americans are saying that he must go. This spectrum of commentary suggests that although our attempt not to become involved may not prove to be completely successful, the effort is at least a valiant one.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 GREECE. Secret; Priority. There is no time of transmission on the source text; the telegram was received at 5:27 p.m. on July 24.
  2. Telegram 122, July 24, reported that the political crisis in Greece was intensifying. (Ibid.)
  3. On July 15, following a clash with King Constantine over his desire to replace Minister of Defense Garoufalias with himself, Prime Minister Papandreou resigned. The King then nominated George Novas, a member of the Center Union, as Prime Minister.
  4. In telegram 127 to Athens, July 31, the Department of State agreed that “discretion needed to avoid untimely involvement of American factor on eve arrival new Ambassador.” (Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 GREECE)