316. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State1

3086. For Asst. Secy. Sisco from Ambassador Tasca. Subj: Contacts with Opposition. Ref: State 099827.2

I fully share your view on the usefulness of contacts with the opposition for the reasons you give. It is my intention to continue to see various former politicians at the residence on a regular basis. We have also invited a substantial number of the opposition to our Independence Day party on July 2.
As you point out, our contacts with the opposition must be handled in such a manner as not to impair our good working relations with the Government which are essential to the promotion of our important security interests in Greece. We must also avoid letting these contacts be exploited by the hardliners or the opposition for purposes that do not accord with our interests. The Greek Government will always be sensitive to Embassy contacts with the opposition, but I am confident that by judicious handling we can avoid undue difficulties, especially since, as you note, the Prime Minister is seeing members of the opposition.
My contacts and those of other officers of the Embassy with opposition figures are generally known around Athens diplomatic, political and press circles and some of my meetings have been noted briefly in the press. As we continue with further meetings, I would expect additional press reporting and we will discreetly try to stimulate some, but I suspect news interest will gradually wane.
I realize that contacts with the opposition have become a bone of contention with some Congressional, press and public critics of the present Greek Government, but I cannot help feeling that it has been to a large extent a fabricated issue and that it is not the real issue. We have never lost touch with opposition figures and we have always been aware of their views. My door has always been open. The real issue concerns the present two-pronged policy towards Greece. Regardless of the extent of Embassy contacts with the opposition, Greek and foreign opponents of the present Greek Government will continue to agitate [Page 795] for a shift in U.S. policy that would imply the application of sufficient U.S. pressure to force return to parliamentary government with or without the consent of the present ruling establishment in Greece. It would set this target as a priority ahead of broader political-military considerations regardless of the practical problems of implementing such a policy. Needless to say, such a policy would be fraught with great risks to security interests, with quite doubtful chances of success on the political side.3
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 594, Country Files—Middle East, Greece, Vol. II 1 Nov 1970–31 Dec 1971. Secret; Exdis.
  2. Dated June 7, it instructed the Embassy to increase its contacts with opposition figures in order to better display U.S. efforts to promote democracy to both Congress and the press. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 GREECE)
  3. In an April 25 backchannel message to Kissinger, Tasca commented: “I attach great importance to the way in which these contacts are handled, as in this area there may be greater hazards to our interests than would be noticeable at first glance.” He asked for Kissingerʼs “personal attention” to the issue. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 594, Country Files—Middle East, Greece, Vol. II 1 Nov 1970–31 Dec 1971) Tascaʼs concern was apparently stirred by a June 2 meeting between Sisco and Demetracopoulos. (Telegram 3136 from Athens, June 23; ibid.) In a subsequent message to Davies (telegram 3470 from Athens, July 11), Tasca outlined his meetings with opposition figures. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL GREECE)