274. Letter From Greek Prime Minister Papadopoulos to President Nixon1

Mister President,

A year has elapsed since my last written communication with Your Excellency.2

During this period, Greece has proceeded along the road towards state normality with steady steps. It has also been able to proceed satisfactorily in its economic development, due to the untroubled internal order. In the first sector, the achievements have been in accordance with the dictates of the rules of national security in combination with the promises given. In the second, they have been commensurate with the potentialities offered by Greek reality.

In the meantime, the United States of America have effected a new approach of the great problems of mankind, under your Presidency, and have given a new content to their historical mission, with a high sense of responsibility, broadness of spirit, and constructive realism.

Your February 18 Report to Congress on United States foreign policy for the 1970ʼs,3 and on a new strategy for peace, sums up this significant fact in a manner extremely eloquent and explicit, and endows the United States with a moral stature which is quite unprecedented.

I have studied your Report with the utmost attention, and am addressing the present letter to you for the very purpose of expressing the great satisfaction felt by the Greek Government for the principles defined in it. As the Government of an allied and friendly nation—one which has suffered the ordeals of war as few others have, and bears a sincere love for peace—it shares these principles without reserve.

Our attention was particularly drawn by your enlightened observations concerning the aims of the Atlantic Alliance, which remain basically unaltered (“the defense of Western Europe against common challenges, and ultimately the creation of a viable and secure European [Page 701] order”), by those observations concerning the duties of the Alliance members, and by those concerning the new form of internal relations which should prevail within the Alliance.

A more responsible participation on the part of the friends of the United States in their own defense and progress is indeed imperative. Every nation is in duty bound to mobilize the resources and energies of its people, and any economic assistance it gets should simply be a means of helping and supplementing its own efforts.

The declaration of the principle of partnership, dictated by the circumstances of our times, is proof that, in fulfilling their mission in world history, the United States possess the priceless faculty of taking that course of action which is most appropriate for the benefit of all mankind, in every historical era.

Greece notes with concern the difficulties in harmonizing the defense policies of the Atlantic Alliance, which have arisen in recent years. So far, she has fulfilled her obligations towards NATO faithfully, and remains devoted to it without reserve.

Greece is aware that the crucial geographic position which she holds in the outposts of the Western World as well as in the Eastern Mediterranean—an area teeming with dangers—creates additional duties for her. Greece believes that she fulfills these duties successfully, and that she provides ample proof of this.

Greece considers that the interests of both the Western World as well as her own make it imperative for her to give first place to the problems of security in connection with her economic development. In the post-war period, she faced repeated armed attempts against her independence. In 1967, in the midst of anarchy, she would have slipped towards communism, had she not been restrained by the Revolution, which was not brought about for the satisfaction of personal ambitions, or for the imposition of a regime removed from the fundamental principles of the Free World.

Having first made the public financing sound, the Greek Government set the basis for a promising economic development which is now proceeding undisturbed, and has carried out a series of decisive social reforms, benefiting both the weaker strata of society as well as the whole.

At the same time, the nation is being led with steadfastness toward political normality and parliamentary government on the basis of the November 15 Constitution, voted by the overwhelming majority of the Greek people. Most of the institutional laws which are indispensable for its full implementation have already been voted. Those remaining will have passed by the end of the present year.4

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In addition, the remaining few suspended articles of the Constitution are being put into force, one after another. Thus, the articles already implemented are: Article 13, concerning the inviolability of domicile; Article 14, concerning freedom of the press—censorship of which has been abolished since December last—and Articles 18 and 19, concerning the rights of assembly and association. Article 10, concerning the Habeas Corpus, will be put into force in the course of this present month, and Articles 111 and 112, concerning the ajudication of crimes and the jurisdiction of courts martial, in the course of the present year.

The Greek Government has no intention whatsoever to deviate from the full restitution of political normality, or to slacken its pace. As I have repeatedly declared in my speeches, the aim of the Revolution is to create wholesome economic conditions in Greece, to reorganize the Administration, and to accomplish the necessary social reform so that the regime may henceforth function normally, and so that the national effort which was undertaken may be turned into good account.

The application of a broad program of civic training of the Greek people was begun last month, with the publication of a special systematic work written by Mr. Papaconstantinou, sociologist and historian, and former Secretary of Education. This book is being distributed to all state functionaries and organized classes, and will be the basis for free and elucidating discussions. A translation of its Table of Contents will be sent to you. Through this, it is plainly manifest how genuinely democratic is the training of the Greek people which is effected by the Revolution.

I am happy because your Report to Congress, which was of such historic importance, has provided me with the opportunity to bring the above mentioned thoughts and assurances to your consideration, and I remain,

Yours sincerely,5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 593, Country Files—Middle East, Greece, Vol. I Jan 69–Oct 70. No classification marking. A typed note at the bottom of the last page reads: “Official Translation, The Prime Ministerʼs Office,” and a handwritten note by Tasca on the first page reads: “Given to HJ Tasca personally evening of April 15—See Athens Exdis 1342, 17 Apr.” No indication of the method of transmission to the White House was found. Telegram 1342 from Athens, March 23, reported on discussions between Tasca and Papadopoulos on the state of Greek-U.S. relations, including Papadopoulosʼs comment that he might send a letter to President Nixon. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL GREECE–US)
  2. See footnote 4, Document 249.
  3. For text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1970, pp. 116–190.
  4. In telegram 1903 from Athens, April 17, Tasca wrote: “I invite the Secretaryʼs particular attention to second paragraph of page 3.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 593, Country Files—Middle East, Greece, Vol. I Jan 69–Oct 70)
  5. The translation of the letter is unsigned.