250. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Greece1

100283. 1. Ambassador Palamas paid farewell call on Sisco June 17.2

2. Sisco, saying he anticipates questions during his forthcoming testimony before Congressional committees, asked how Palamas would describe developments in Greece. Palamas replied that so far GOG has kept its promises and accomplished quite a bit in two years. It has stopped drift toward communism, preserved institution of monarchy in spite of Kingʼs counter-coup, and a new democratic constitution has been adopted which strikes balance between individual freedoms and state authority. Constitution is being applied although some articles remain suspended. It will be applied in full when implementing legislation is ready. But, said Palamas, one must have no illusions that all can be as it was before. It may be for example that the Army will undertake to engage directly in politics. Those critical of present regime should keep in mind that if present regime should go, it could be replaced by regime which those who dislike present regime would like even less.US would be well advised to avoid interference in Greek affairs.

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3. To Siscoʼs question about election prospects, Palamas replied that those who press the government for elections are committing themselves to the consequences. Elections could involve a disruption of discipline which might in turn bring consequences which those who insist on elections would not appreciate.

4. To Siscoʼs question about the attitude of Greek people toward regime, Palamas replied that it is passive on the whole. One can understand this passivity when one considers situation which prevailed before. Fact remains economic situation is good, prices stable, social progress being made.

5. Sisco pointed out that if moving swiftly toward parliamentary democracy might cause disruption, moving slowly created difficulties in terms of the regimeʼs gaining general support. Palamas responded that the present situation ought to be satisfactory to the U.S. and NATO. GOG had avoided war with Turkey. In fact relations with Turks had improved. No other GOG could have accomplished this. Palamas warned that if the present stability were to break down it would be much worse for everyone.

6. Sisco asked what problems would be posed by free elections. Palamas responded that the problem would be to contain the communist effort at disruption and to gain advantage from elections. The danger lies not with the 10 to 15 per cent of the Greeks who are the hard core support of the communist party but rather with those who cooperate with communists, concealing themselves under other labels.

7. Rockwell asked whether the GOG satisfied with American policy, apart from question of suspension of some military assistance. Palamas responded that U.S. military assistance policy very troublesome indeed. This apart, GOG feels wounded by unfairness of obloquy cast on it by such developments as recent article on torture in Greece in Look magazine.3 In general, though, he thought that US policy on right track, alleging particularly that Pattakos had been told on occasion of recent visit to Washington that US policy towards Greece was one of non-interference and cooperation with NATO partner, leaving Greek domestic problems for Greeks to solve. Palamas added that the restoration of military aid would eliminate last obstacle to cordial relations.

8. Sisco noted that certain elements in U.S. proposed simple solution—cut off aid to Greece and thus cause GOG to topple. Palamas responded this a childish conception. Reaction in Greece would be strong, particularly on the part of the Army which would then have to consider other alternatives. Attempting topple existing regime would be bad for Greece, bad for US and bad for NATO. Sisco then noted others [Page 636] suggested US should manifest its displeasure toward GOG by not helping it in the UN, condemning its behavior, and taking every occasion to say publicly that we were pressuring GOG to reform. Palamas said this would alienate GOG, shake its stability, reinforce communists.

9. In parting shot Palamas noted that Karamanlis still held great prestige but he doubted whether Karamanlis would move so long as he had to count so much on support of “foreign factors.”

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL GREECE–US. Confidential. Drafted by Vigderman on June 17; cleared in draft by Rockwell; and approved by Sisco. Repeated to London, Paris, Rome, USNATO, USDOCOSOUTH, and by pouch to Nicosia and Ankara.
  2. Palamas was returning to Greece to assume the post of Deputy Foreign Minister.
  3. Reference is to “Greece: Government by Torture,” Look, May 27, 1969.