82 Department of External Affairs to Noel-Baker

Cablegram 15, CANBERRA, 22 January 1948, 2.30 p.m.


Your D.11.[1]

The assumption of the Greek Ambassador in paragraph 3 of the memorandum referred to in your telegram under reference that military assistance would be provided in the event of recognition of the Markos Government raises matters of serious concern. We feel that military intervention in Greece is likely to lead to a deterioration of the situation and possible dangers of large scale international conflict. In the event of military intervention succeeding in inducing the northern neighbours of Greece to refrain from giving aid to the rebels, it may be impossible to persuade the Greek Government to undertake any of the democratic and humanitarian reforms which we consider to be essential for a lasting solution. On the other hand there is a possibility that the northern neighbours, fearing the destruction of the rebel forces and the consequent consolidation of the present unfriendly government in Greece, will be prepared to increase material assistance to the guerrillas. In this eventuality it is not unlikely that the Soviet Union might join Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania in providing war material and equipment for the rebel forces. A situation of this nature might well lead to international warfare on a widening scale.

We feel, therefore, that active military intervention by the United Nations, either collectively or individually, should be avoided unless there is clear evidence of concerted aggression against Greek territory by the military forces of the northern neighbours. The evidence at present obtained by the investigations of the Balkans Commission, its subsidiary group and the special committee have shown that the participation of the northern neighbours is limited to hospitalisation of wounded guerrillas, the use of Yugoslav, Albanian or Bulgarian territory for tactical purposes and the possible equipment of guerrilla bands, although on the latter point evidence is not conclusive.

We feel that the Greek Government might be advised not to rely on military assistance as a solution to its problems. Suppression of the guerrilla movement is not likely to succeed while a repressive and reactionary policy continues to drive democratic elements into armed opposition. The only real and lasting solution must come from within Greece itself through the sincere implementation of the following measures:-

(a) Amnesty;

(b) Restoration of freedom of speech and assembly;

(c) Encouragement of trade unions;

(d) Overhaul of public administrative system, including system of taxation;

(e) Preparations for new election;

(f) Proposals for economic and political relations with Balkan neighbours;

(g) Revision of security measures; and (h) Conversion of military to civil courts.

Greek Government might undertake to carry out this programme provided that Marcos gives cease-fire order and agrees to participate in and abide by elections. Greek programme, cease-fire, and elections should be internationally supervised by United Nations.

Conditional on above, all military aid to the Greek Government and the guerrillas should cease. This should be confirmed by the United Nations.

Economic aid to unified Greece should be under the supervision of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

[1] D11, dispatched 6 January 1948. It summarised a memorandum received from the Greek ambassador in which were expressed a number of concerns of the Greek government: that Greece's northern neighbours would soon recognise the rebel Markos government; that there had been no 'vigorous reaction' by other countries to the possibility of such recognition; that if such recognition occurred the Greek government would have to ask the United Nations to apply Article 51 of the Charter [on threats to the peace] and would have to seek 'collective assistance'. The Greek government had given the United States government a similar memorandum which was, 'in effect, request for military assistance'. Greece was asking the British government for 'support with United States Government'.

[AA : A1838, 852/20/1, II]