258. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1

15340. Delto 2176. For Sisco and Rockwell NEA from Lodge. Ref: State 166250.2 Subj: Lunch with Caramanlis.

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I attended a lunch of ten persons in honor of my wife and me at Caramanlisʼ apartment. Before sitting down, Caramanlis drew me aside and said the following:

The situation in Greece could still be saved but there was not more than between 3 and 6 months left. At the end of that time the situation would become impossible to change in a peaceful way. It would only be possible to change by violence.
He had made his statement out of a “sense of duty” because he considers himself to be “permanently retired from politics.” He had had an excellent reaction to his remarks.3 Reports reaching him indicated that 80 percent of the people in Greece applauded what he had done. He would be willing to serve if elected, but he believed strongly that not only must the colonels go but that all the old parties and politicians must go too. There had to be a new constitution and a new political structure.
Greece today, he said, had the type of military dictatorship which occurs frequently in Latin America. And yet, he said, Greece is very different from Latin America. The colonels were ignorant of politics and frivolous and impulsive in political actions of which they obviously did not foresee the consequences.
I tried to draw him out on the question of whether the colonels would allow him to come back and conduct a political campaign. There was, I said, not much use in being popular if you could not run. After several attempts, I failed to get him to answer this in an even remotely intelligible way. Perhaps Caramanlis believes that if there was a great sentiment for him abroad, the colonels would be inclined not to prevent him from coming back to run.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL GREECE. Confidential; Limdis.
  2. Not found. In telegram 169560 to Paris, October 6, the Department of State commented: “Obviously too soon to judge effect on internal developments in Greece of Karamanlis initiative and succeeding moves. As long as Karamanlis working at his objectives, he is keeping up desirable pressure on the Greek regime.” (Ibid., POL GREECE–US)
  3. See footnote 7, Document 256. In telegram 4516 from Athens, October 10, the Embassy expressed the view that the Karamanlis initiative was “aimed primarily at influencing forthcoming U.S. policy decision.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 593, Country Files—Middle East, Greece, Vol. I Jan 69–Oct 70)