Page images
PDF
EPUB

45. CESSATION OF ACTIVITIES OF GREEK GUERRILLAS 1 Statement by Secretary Acheson, October 17, 1949

As a result of the Greek Army offensives in October in the Grammos ́itsi areas, Greek Government forces now for the first time since the ́ar command the northern borders of Greece. Guerrilla forces operting within Greece amount to approximately two thousand, scattered 1 small groups over the entire country. In most cases, these groups re mainly concerned with self-protection and raiding for food and re continually being pursued and harassed. There has been a oticeable trend of the leaders and some of the members of these roups to work their way toward Albania.

Most of the guerrillas who fled from Greece as the result of the rammos-Vitsi campaigns entered Albania. There are approximately ight thousand five hundred guerrillas located in Albania. There is stimated to be about three thousand guerrillas in Bulgaria. Some of these guerrillas in Bulgaria entered the country as the result of ecent operations in northeastern Greece, but the majority of them have been in Bulgaria over a period of time as a part of guerrilla operations and hospitalization which has taken place in Bulgaria. There is no objective information available to the Department giving vidence that the guerrillas in either Albania or Bulgaria have been lisarmed or interned.

According to the United Nations Special Committee, the Yugoslav Government has closed the Greek borders, precluding the entry of fleeing guerrillas, and has not recently lent support to these forces. In general, the closed border appears to have been effective, except in a few cases in which some guerrilla forces have entered Yugoslavia where the terrain is very rugged and sparsely manned by the Yugoslavs. It is not believed that there is a large number of guerrillas now remaining in Yugoslavia.

Unconfirmed reports have indicated that guerillas located in Albania are being moved by sea or air from Albania to Bulgaria, Rumania, and possibly other satellite countries. The Department is in possession of no information indicating the purpose of this reported redisposition. The "cease fire" guerrilla announcement is, in any case, a practical recognition of the state of affairs existing at this time. The stated purpose of the announcement, in order to "save Greece from destruction," must be viewed with some scepticism in as much as during guerrilla operations in force in Greece, they engaged to the fullest extent possible in the destruction of the Greek economy and resorted to every crime against humanity, including murder, arson, kidnapping, wholesale slaughter, abrogation of all liberties, and terrorizing whole areas. Now that these guerrillas who are located in Greece are forced to devote their activities to self-preservation and the majority of the guerrilla forces, because they are located outside of Greece, can no longer indulge in bringing about ruin and disaster, it is natural that they would attempt to make political salvage by attributing their defeat to the tardily announced desire "to save Greece from destruction."

1 Department of State Bulletin of October 31, 1949, p. 658.

146. DISCUSSION OF THE GREEK CASE IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Statement by Benjamin V. Cohen, U. S. Alternate
Representative, November 17, 1949 1

1

The Greek case is now before the Assembly for the third time. This case arises from the aid given by the northern neighbors of Greece to Greek guerrillas in their efforts to overthrow the existing Greek Government. That aid the Assembly has twice found was given contrary to the Charter and constituted a threat to the territorial integrity and political independence of Greece.

The Cominform countries have opposed the action taken by the Assembly in its last two sessions and oppose the action now recommended by the Political Committee. They have taken the position that the Greek case arises from the policies of the Greek Government and the aid extended to that government by the United States and the United Kingdom. They insist that peace between Greece and her northern neighbors can come only through measures of internal pacification in Greece and the cessation of aid to the Greek Government from the West.

The position of the Cominform countries ignores many facts of the present and many facts of the recent past. These facts clearly disclose that the activities of the Cominform countries have been an obstacle and not a help to the restoration of peace on a democratic basis in Greece. Let us briefly examine the record.

LIBERATION GOVERNMENT AND THE EAM

The difficulties in Greece go back to the struggle in the winter of 1944-45 between the Liberation Government of Greece and EAM, the Greek Communist popular-front organization created during the Axis occupation. EAM viciously attacked the Liberation Government as being collaborationist, monarcho-Fascist, undemocratic, and sought by force to overthrow it. Supporters of the government charged the Communists as being more pro-Soviet than Greek and recalled that the Communist leaders had shown little interest in the defense of Greek freedom until the Soviet Union was attacked. The struggle led to many excesses and much bitterness. The bitterness was exacerbated by the widespread feeling in Greece, which subsequent events clearly confirmed, that the Communists were more concerned to seize power on behalf of the Soviet-dominated world Communist movement than to restore it to the Greek people. That does not, however, mean that all those working with the EAM were so motivated. There were patriotic Greeks who had cooperated with EAM during the Axis occupation because of the active part the Communists had taken in the resistance movement.

The hostilities of 1944-45 were terminated shortly after the appointment of the greatly respected Archbishop Damaskinos as regent by an armistice agreement, known as the Varkiza agreement, concluded on February 12, 1945, between the Greek Government and EAM. The agreement provided for a broad amnesty, the disarmament of

1 Released to the press by the U. S. delegation to the General Assembly on November 17, 1949. Department of State Bulletin of November 28, 1949, pp. 813-816.

the regular Communist forces, a plebiscite on the monarchy, and an election under international supervision. Following the armistice, there were complaints from the start by both sides concerning truce violations. The Communists demanded an immediate election. There was a revival of bitter attacks upon the Government accompanied by the recurrence of guerrilla operations.

In the winter of 1945-46 when conditions were still tense within Greece, the Soviet Union sought through the Security Council to have the remaining British military forces withdrawn from Greece. The Government of Greece appeared before the Council and stated that the British troops were in Greece at its request and that their presence there was necessary to the maintenance of public order and to prevent the renewal of civil war. The Security Council refused to request the withdrawal of the British forces.

PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

During the winter of 1945-46, the Greek Government began preparations for parliamentary elections and asked that the four great powers observe these elections as contemplated by the Yalta and Varkiza agreement. Britain, France, and the United States responded to this request, but the Soviet Union refused on the ground that international supervision of the election would constitute an interference in the internal affairs of Greece. Thereupon, the Greek Communists also shifted their line and opposed the holding of the election. Some of the center parties opposed the holding of the election, fearing that the bitter feeling in the country against the Communists would react in favor of the more conservative parties. But the Regent, Archbishop Damaskinos, and the Government insisted that a free election was necessary for the maintenance of the authority of the Government, and, despite the Communist boycott, the election was held on March 31, 1946.

The election of 1946 was held under the close scrutiny of more than 1,000 American, British, and French observers. The Allied Mission to observe the Greek election estimated that the proportion of qualified voters who abstained for "party reasons" was about 15 percent. The Allied Mission in its report concluded:

That notwithstanding the present political emotions in Greece, conditions were such as to warrant the holding of elections, that the election proceedings were on the whole free and fair, and that the general outcome represents a true and valid verdict of the Greek people.

Though the election of 1946, like most elections, may not have been a perfect register of the popular will or of the comparative strength of different parties, it did afford a much freer expression of the popular will than was afforded in any of the postwar elections in other countries of southeastern Europe. The election did unquestionably give convincing proof that the Communist popular-front groups did not enjoy the confidence of the Greek people and in no way represented the Greek people as a whole.

The Communists were unwilling to accept the election or to confine their struggle with their political opponents to peaceful political opposition. Guerrilla warfare did not cease but increased. The interest of the Cominform countries in the guerrilla activities was

scarcely concealed. In the summer of 1946, the Ukraine brought charges in the Security Council that Greek policy was disturbing the peace in the Balkans. The Security Council, apparently regarding this as a case of the pot calling the kettle black, refused to intervene. It soon became evident that the guerrilla activities were being supported and aided by the northern neighbors of Greece, not sporadically or casually, but actively and deliberately in accordance with an internationally concerted Communist plan. It was then, in December 1946, that the Greek Government drew the attention of the Security Council to the danger to the peace arising from the assistance being given by Greece's northern neighbors to the Greek guerrillas.

APPEAL FOR AMERICAN AID

It was in March 1947, that the Greek Government first appealed to the United States Government for material aid in maintaining her political independence and territorial integrity. American assistance from the start not only was conditioned on the continuing consent of the Greek Government, but was also expressly made subject to termination whenever the Security Council or General Assembly should find that action taken or assistance furnished by the United Nations made the continuance of American assistance unnecessary or undesirable. And what is more, we expressly waived our right of veto should the question of American assistance come before the Security Council.

American aid was extended to Greece, as American lend-lease aid was extended to other Allies during the war, to protect our common interest in the preservation of freedom in the world. It will be recalled that the United States extended more than 50 billion dollars' worth in lend-lease to our Allies during the war, and more than 11 billion of that amount went to the Soviet Union. That aid safeguarded and did not compromise the independence of the Soviet Union or of any of the other Allies. American aid has not been used and will not be used to compromise the independence of Greece.

American aid to Greece has not been given to support any particular party or faction. Our aid has been given to safeguard the independence of Greece from the efforts of the Cominform to impose the Communist system by force upon the people of Greece. This is its sole purpose. American aid to Greece does not threaten the legitimate interests in Greece of any foreign power, nor does it in any way threaten the security of Greece's northern neighbors or of any other power. No American combat troops have ever been sent to Greece, and there is not a single American military, naval, or air base in the country.

The investigations of the Security Council confirmed the facts regarding the activities of the Cominform countries in support of the Greek guerrillas, but the Council was unable to act because of the Soviet veto. It was then in the fall of 1947 that the United States first brought the Greek case to the attention of the General Assembly.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

Both in 1947 and 1948, the General Assembly found that the aid given to the Greek guerrillas by the northern neighbors of Greece was a threat to the peace and a violation of the Charter. In 1947, the

General Assembly created the Special Committee on the Balkans for purposes of observation and conciliation and in 1948, continued the committee with special stress upon its conciliatory functions. This year the Political Committee recommends to the Assembly that the Assembly again condemn the aid being given to the Greek guerrillas in violation of the Charter, particularly by Albania and Bulgaria, and ask that such aid be terminated. Meanwhile it recommends that the Assembly call upon all states to cease all arms shipments to Albania and Bulgaria and to take into account in their relations with such states the extent to which they abide by the recommendations of the Assembly. The Political Committee also recommends that the Assembly continue the Special Committee for another year.

The Political Committee further recommends that the Assembly call upon the northern neighbors of Greece harboring Greek nationals as a result of guerrillas' operations against Greece to facilitate the peaceful repatriation of all such individuals who wish to return and live in accordance with the law of the land. The recommendation expressly refers to peaceful repatriation and does not suggest that any individual be required to return who does not wish to return. The Political Committee also recommends that the Assembly authorize the Secretary-General to arrange through the Special Committee or other appropriate United Nations or international agencies the extension of any feasible assistance to the governments concerned in making and carrying out arrangements for the repatriation to Greece or resettlement elsewhere of Greek guerrillas and other Greek nationals who have been involved in the guerrilla warfare. It is our hope now that the struggle between the guerrillas and the Greek Government has abated and that the Special Committee or the Red Cross or some other international group may, with the cooperation of Greece and her northern neighbors, arrange for the repatriation to Greece or their resettlement elsewhere of the Greek nationals who have been involved in the guerrilla warfare. .

ATTITUDE OF COMINFORM STATES

The Cominform states have talked loud and long in the committee about a so-called terror in Greece. One cannot but express the hope that these states may in their own countries move toward those ideals of tolerance for dissident groups that they have preached with such eloquence to the Greeks. The Greek Government has had a good reason, as I have shown, to suspect that the Cominform's interest in Greece has not always been an interest in Greek freedom of Greek tolerance. The Greeks have had good reason to suspect the Cominform bearing gifts.

ance.

The epithets and imprecations which we heard hurled at the Government of Greece by the speakers from the Cominform countries in the Political Committee seemed more calculated to stir the Greek Government to reprisals than to move it to mercy and greater tolerThe storm and fury of the Cominform spokesmen contrasted so markedly with the dignity and restraint displayed by the Greek representatives under the most grave and unwarranted provocations. There is no iron curtain between the Greek stage and world opinion. The members of this Assembly are, therefore, informed as to the true state of affairs inside Greece from their own diplomatic representatives

« PreviousContinue »