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

369. [7 paragraphs (2 pages) of source text not declassified]

[8 lines of source text not declassified] Embassy has concluded George Papandreou’s return to power should be avoided if this can be done without a direct and open confrontation with him. George Papandreou at this moment commands wide popular support among Greek people. This popularity has temporarily been raised to artificial levels in current crisis by Papandreou’s clever exploitation of latent hostility towards the Monarchy. I am keenly aware that inasmuch as we may have to deal with Papandreou again in future, utmost discretion and avoidance of open hostility toward him are essential.

Andreas’ motives are difficult to present categorically. In my assessment, based on half dozen extensive conversations with him, Andreas is neutralist, ambitious, amoral, and emotionally unstable. Although conclusive proof has not yet been adduced I believe Andreas is probably a leader in Aspida and that he hopes eventually to achieve a measure of control in army which would be exercised as decisive element in Greek political life.

In his view the weight of the American position in Greece, political and military, is an obstacle to “independent” foreign and domestic Greek policy which he advocates. I believe Andreas would seek significantly to reduce Greek military expenses, would progressively remove Greece from close NATO alignment, look increasingly toward Soviet bloc both as growing market for Greek products (30 per cent of Greek exports now find their way to the Soviet bloc) and as source of aid to fill gap created by decline in Western aid (U.S., OECD, NATO defense support). His natural ally in implementing such a policy is extreme Left and Communists. Explanation of his dubious role in Cyprus issue and his opposition to an active enosis policy may lie in his desire to avoid a position which would be offensive to Soviet Union and Communist elements to whom he seems to be looking for support in other areas. Under these circumstances, it is of great importance to obtain better measure Andreas’ relationship Communists and extreme Left, determine sources and magnitude his financial resources, and circumscribe to extent possible his political power, actual and potential.

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Greece is small, poor country in strategic area of world. Gradual elimination of Western economic aid, reduction of East-West tensions, increased trade between Greece and the bloc, frustration over the Cyprus situation, and current political impasse with its implication for viability of regime itself have all combined create movement of new dimensions in postwar Greek political life. This situation presents new opportunities for Soviet bloc and perhaps other unfriendly forces such as Gaullist France and Red China. Objective evidence such as organization of public manifestations, program of personal threats and intimidation, and rumors regarding substantial funds available to Andreas clearly suggests Communists are not standing aside. Kostopoulos and Zolotas have both recently mentioned to me that drachmae resources of Western European banks have mysteriously evaporated.

Changing factors in international political life have also reduced somewhat weight of American influence here. We recognize precisely because American influence is slowly declining it must be exercised with increasing caution and discretion. [13 lines of source text not declassified]2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 GREECE. Secret; Limdis; Roger Channel. There is no time of transmission on the source text; the telegram was received at 10:48 a.m.
  2. [text not declassified]