272. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Greece1
Washington, April 20, 1967, 6:51 p.m.
179151. For Ambassador from Battle.
- We have studied closely your recent messages describing the grave situation in Greece and dilemma facing King of (1) imposing dictatorship or (2) permitting CU to assume power following next elections with possible far-reaching consequences for Greece and its relations with US. We have pondered carefully question of what, if any, steps USG might take to meet situation and propose following formula for your consideration and comment.
- We are working on assumption Papandreou’s chief fear at present time is arrest of his son Andreas for alleged membership in Aspida [Page 578] conspiracy. Arrest of Andreas could easily touch off violent demonstrations which in turn would be met by extreme repressive measures by government and possible imposition of dictatorship. On other hand, King’s deepest fear is that if Papandreous win elections, Center Union will move immediately to strip King of his power by major shakeup in military forces and intelligence setup, with eventual aim of undermining and perhaps eliminating monarchy. Concurrent to this is general concern that younger Papandreou would move Greece away from Western Alliance.
- Proposed scenario would be that you call on George Papandreou at earliest opportunity, and inform him on instructions that USG deeply concerned at present rift in Greek body politic and increasing polarization due to extreme positions being taken by both sides. You would emphasize that we have great stake in future of Greece as result of major US investment in men, money, and matériel dating from 1947. We consider prosperous Greece is essential to Western Alliance. USG is fully aware of Papandreou’s devotion to democracy, his long history of anti-Communism, and his dedication to welfare of his country.
- You could add that as we view situation, cooling off of highly charged political atmosphere could result from an agreement on both sides to moderate language in public statements and speeches. (This would seem to be particularly important at present juncture, since elder Papandreou is about to make one of his two major speeches this Sunday in Thessaloniki. Extremist remarks on that occasion would set unfortunate tone for entire campaign and might increase tensions, already dangerously high, to breaking point.)
- To meet problem outlined para 2 we would propose compromise based on iron-clad assurances from both sides. Our formula would envision assurance from King to G. Papandreou that Andreas Papandreou would not be arrested, in return for following two concessions from Papandreou, on assumption he wins May 28 elections: (1) that he appoint only persons of “mutual confidence” to sensitive positions of Foreign Affairs and Defense and (2) that he not carry out widespread shakeup in armed forces leadership. FYI, these two assurances from Papandreou would appear to be minimum concessions acceptable to King to stay his hand from imposing dictatorship in event CU wins majority in elections. End FYI.
- You should attempt to induce George Papandreou to put such a compromise formula forward to Palace on his own. If he will not see King but asks you to help, you could serve as “honest broker” and convey compromise proposal to King.
- None of elements in proposed formula is sacrosanct and we leave it to you to modify them according to prevailing conditions there. If you perceive major objection to recommended action, we would welcome [Page 579] countersuggestions from you. However we feel time is of essence in view of fast-moving developments in Greece, including Papandreou’s opening speech this weekend and indications that government may be moving to arrest Andreas Papandreou. If latter happens, it may be too late to play constructive role in this deteriorating situation.
- Would appreciate your comments urgently as to wisdom foregoing proposal. Please include your thoughts re dangers, charges US meddling in internal situation. Also comment on possibility approach being made through CAS or unofficial channel.
- Take no action in absence further instructions.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 GREECE. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Owens and Brewster, cleared by Rockwell and Katzenbach, and approved by Battle.↩