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

229. Choidas, Chief Royal Political Bureau, telephoned yesterday evening. He said he wanted me to know that even though CU party caucus yesterday afternoon had produced only 26 deputies who supported Stephanopoulos as against 116 who supported Papandreou, King was [Page 426] confident Stephanopoulos would continue his efforts. Stephanopoulos had assured King, through Choidas, that he would produce a solution. Palace hoped such solution would be Stephanopoulos’ agreement to accept mandate himself. Embassy’s good offices would be appreciated. King himself also commented to an American friend yesterday that he hoped Embassy could encourage Stephanopoulos to move forward.

Later in evening [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and I received visit from CU Deputy Tsouderos. Tsouderos said he had just come from meeting at which Mitsotakis, Tsirimokos and Papapolitis were working very hard to persuade Stephanopoulos that it is essential he continue his effort. A word of encouragement from Embassy at this point could be extremely important. Tsouderos said there is increasing amount of disgust and unhappiness among 116 deputies who had supported Papandreou yesterday. Although it is not at all certain that all 26 who had supported Stephanopoulos yesterday would necessarily support him if he proceeded without formal support of CU, there is undoubtedly significant number of deputies who had supported Papandreou who would switch their allegiance if Stephanopoulos’ determination to accept mandate and seek vote of confidence became clear.

I acknowledged that if Stephanopoulos solution failed, other possible solutions are certainly not very attractive. Stephanopoulos is now in awkward position to continue in light his public statements making acceptance of mandate contingent on approval of CU. Moreover, performance of Stephanopoulos’ sponsor, Lambrakis, and his papers Vima and Nea have been extremely disappointing not to say ambiguous. Despite his professed private endorsement of Stephanopoulos plan, it seemed pretty clear Lambrakis had in fact done virtually nothing at the last minute to encourage those who might otherwise have been tempted support Stephanopoulos. Even though Stephanopoulos succeeded in forming govt and even though an additional thirty or forty CU deputies subsequently adhered to Stephanopoulos, serious situation would remain with Papandreous outside govt, resulting de facto popular front. Problem would be particularly awkward if powerful Lambrakis press continued support Papandreou. Nevertheless Stephanopoulos solution still seemed least unattractive and I hoped Stephanopoulos could be persuaded not to abandon his effort until it is certain he could not succeed. Tsouderos visited Stephanopoulos after having left us.

This morning I received a telephone call from Stephanopoulos. Asked him how he saw situation and whether he was prepared to continue his effort. He said he would inform King at noon today he could not under circumstances accept mandate. I commented it is obvious that solution must be found and asked whether he had any other ideas. He replied that he had, and that he would like to talk with me about them soon.

[Page 427]

Comment: It was subsequently confirmed, as I surmised, that there were a number of other deputies in room when Stephanopoulos telephoned.

As reported above, I have within last 24 hours said to Tsouderos and clearly implied to Stephanopoulos himself that Stephanopoulos should persist in his efforts. Combined votes of ERE, Progressive Party, 25 votes of those who participated in Novas govt, and 26 votes of those who supported Stephanopoulos yesterday in CU caucus would be arithmetically sufficient to form a govt. Under these circumstances I considered Embassy should not withhold word of encouragement which might just possibly provoke necessary impetus to break current impasse and provide interim political solution. Situation had developed to point where issue apparently hung in balance and where cautious effort on our part justified.

[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] believes within limitations of resources currently available Embassy has provided maximum support to Novas and Stephanopoulos consistent with discretion which we have been endeavoring maintain. In light this situation I hope Dept will be in position to act affirmatively at appropriate moment on recommendations which I have made re PL 480 program.2 Unfortunately, however, that moment has not yet arrived and may not for some days.

King acknowledged in private conversation with friend this evening that he is very much at a loss at this point. He had originally been led to believe Stephanopoulos could accumulate about 70 CU votes. Even after Papandreou’s victory in CU caucus yesterday afternoon, King had clung to hope Stephanopoulos could be persuaded to accept the mandate.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 GREECE. Secret; Roger Channel. There is no time of transmission on the source text; the telegram was received at 5:23 p.m.
  2. Not further identified.
  3. In telegram 164 to Athens, August 12, the Department of State responded: “Appreciate intense nature of pressure employed to force American involvement in crisis. However, believe response to any further approaches of type mentioned your 229 should be reiteration that ultimate solution will be healthier politically and more permanent if Greeks work it out without interference.” (Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 GREECE)