312. Backchannel Message From the Ambassador to Greece (Tasca) to the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

1071. 1. I hope you have seen my telegram, Athens 19202 to Department (Nodis) describing the discreet efforts we are making via confidential intermediaries to stress to Prime Minister Papadopoulos the need to take steps toward elections by the fall of 1972.

2. For your own information, and for the President if you find it appropriate, we have been couching arguments to Papadopoulos in terms of his reciprocating the expressions of friendship and good will which the President has shown to him. Our intermediary in one instance spoke directly of the delicate and difficult elections coming up in 1972 and the criticism which President Nixon faces in some quarters over his policy toward Greece. He urged Papadopoulos to keep all this in mind and pointed to the desirability of real political progress to [Page 781] ward elections in Greece to remove a troublesome and contentious element before the U.S. elections. My intermediary reported that the Prime Minister had received the above with interest and had shown a wish to be as cooperative as he could. Specifically, Papadopoulos replied that he hoped very much he could be helpful, that progress continued to be made in Greece and that if everyone “remained in his place” he hoped to be able to make the key decision within the framework of President Nixonʼs schedule.

3. While all this is encouraging and I intend to pursue energetically the opportunity it represents, I must also point out the pitfalls ahead. Young Revolutionary Army officers still follow the slogan “no King and no elections,” and there are many in Papadopoulos regime who lack his political sense as to evolution and prefer to dig in where they are. This means that we must be careful not to embarrass him further by public statements appearing to put him under foreign pressure and thereby undermining his prestige with his colleagues.

4. Similarly, we must treat the issue of Constantine with care and always with out prime objective of the implementation of the Constitution foremost in mind. [2½ lines not declassified] All this could change, but Constantine has not yet seized any of the opportunities to make his peace with the regime. I see signs of disillusionment among even Royalist circles with him and with his prospects. [3½ lines not declassified] But with all the above in mind I recommend that whatever the USG does in its relations with Constantine be closely coordinated with me. A mis-step with Constantine could set back our whole effort to get the Constitution fully applied. This effort requires reconciliation of the nationalist elements—not further divisions—and must go forward in harmony and in accordance with existing realities in Greece.

5. I have written to you in this private fashion to report the aspects of the problem that are politically sensitive for the administration. The basic intelligence information in this letter has been reported via regular Department of State channels.

With warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 423, Backchannel Files—Backchannel Messages, Europe, Middle East, and Latin America, 1971. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. There is no time of transmission or receipt on the telegram.
  2. Document 311.