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84 Noel-Baker to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram D29, LONDON, 29 January 1948, 11.15 p.m.


Your telegram 22nd January No. 15.[1]

1. Thank you for letting us have your views on the Greek Ambassador's approach. Whilst we have ourselves been giving anxious consideration to the Greek situation including the possibility of the Greek Government invoking Article 51 of the Charter, the Greek Ambassador only alluded to this possibility as likely to materialise if Markos were recognised by northern neighbours. Both on this occasion and on 10th January (my telegram 12th January D No. 21) he was concerned that the United Kingdom and United States Governments should do what they could to prevent such recognition. Our information leads us to think that as a result both of the rebels' lack of success at Konitsa and of United Kingdom and United States diplomatic and other steps, the Soviet Bloc Governments are hesitating about granting recognition.

[matter omitted]

3. The Greek Government have not specifically asked us to send troops or to urge the United States Government to do so. Should any proposal be made for military intervention in Greece we shall certainly bear in mind considerations referred to in your paragraph 1. As regards evidence so far available from the Balkans Commission we consider that while it may not amount to proof of aggressive action, there is already sufficient to show that there has been and continues to be active intervention in support of rebels by northern neighbours of Greece.

[matter omitted]

5. With regard to the reform programme outlined in paragraph 3 of your telegram we realise that in many respects Greek Government does not come up to standards which we would have hoped to see established. However, in our opinion essential pre-condition for any solution of Greek problem is that Communist intervention should cease. Until it does we feel that it would be unrealistic to press Greek Government further than we have already done to undertake a programme of internal reform. It is for instance out of the question for any preparations for a genuine election to be made in the present unsettled conditions. Pressure for reforms at this juncture might imperil their stability and thus give added opportunity for communistic intervention. Our view was publicly stated by Foreign Secretary in Commons on 26th January as follows:-

'We had hoped to be out of Greece. We had hoped that after the first election a Government would be formed; that in time subsequent elections would take place and the whole process of democratic development would be allowed to function. But that has not been allowed because of state of virtual civil war has been perpetuated the whole time. So it is not a question of what sort of elected Government there is in Greece - Liberal coalition or whatever it might be - but it is a ruthless attempt constantly maintained to bring that country in the Soviet orbit.'
6. On this reading of the situation there is no likelihood of a satisfactory settlement between Greek Government and Markos on basis suggested in your telegram. An offer by the Greek Government if made would be interpreted as a sign of weakness. As regards supervision by the United Nations it will be recalled that the Soviet government refused to take part in international supervision of Greek elections in 1946 or in present U.N.S.C.O.B.; and that its participation in the First Commission was used for obstruction and led to repeated use of the veto when the majority report was considered in the Security Council. It is unlikely that any fresh international body would have their support.[2]

[matter omitted]

[1] Document 82.

[2] A further expression of UK views on Greece appears in Document 317, paragraph 9.

[AA : A1838, 852/20/1, II]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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