Dr. Alex Bebler
The rightist newspaper Vima of April 21, 1948, admitted concerning the methods of the American representatives: "Certain laws have been passed even containing errors in the Greek text, because those who wrote these laws submitted a Greek translation together with the American original. Not even the right of correcting these errors was granted to Greece, but the Americans insisted that the laws be passed as written, without changes."
Another rightist newspaper, Elephteria of April 30, 1948, expresses itself in the following terms on the same subject: "The American Mission drew up these laws: one on its privileges, another on the blocking of Greek property and a third on the suppression of the Ministry of Supply. Regarding the substance they are provocative, stupid and inhuman. The Government submitted them to the Parliament and reiterated the recommendation on the prohibition of amendments or alterations of their texts."
You see, Gentlemen, what happened to the sovereignity of Greece. Is it astonishing then that the Ministers of the Athens Government, as well as leaders of the political parties in Athens have adopted the habit of visiting the American Embassy or the American Mission to confer on fundamental political problems, to receive the advice of American representatives before acting?
Thus, for example, in August, 1948—according to the Greek press—the Vice-Premier Tsaldaris and Minister of Finance Helmis, together with some members of the Parliament were called to the American Mission, where Mr. Clay explained to them the measures to be undertaken in the economic and financial spheres. He asked, among other things, that 5,000 civil servants should be dismissed in order to balance the budget. But the following is the most characteristic of the customs prevailing in Athens now. When the Government refuses to meet the demands of cooperatives, trade unions, and other organizations, these organizations call on the American representatives to settle the matter. This was the case, according to the Athens press, with the delegation of cooperatives which the Athens Government itself sent to the American Mission to settle the question of the price of wheat. The Athens press also reported that a delegation of civil servants on August 25, 1948, visited the United States Ambassador, Mr. Grady, and asked for an increase of salaries. Although the request was fully justified, the American Ambassador in Athens turned them down.
But the following tops everything. During the meeting of the Athens Government on August 26, 1948#8212;I am quoting the liberal newspaper Nea of the following day—Mr. Clay, Counsellor of the American Mission, interrupted into the meeting hall unannounced, called the Minister of Finance, and ordered him not to issue a communiqué on the intended increase of salaries of civil servants. The same newspaper dared to make the following remark concerning this action of a foreign representative: "We have the right to draw the attention of certain United States representatives in Athens to the necessity of more propriety in their relations with the legal representatives of the Greek state. No one is allowed to break in on a meeting of the Council of Ministers as easily as one would break into a Nebraska night club."1
The members of our Commission have, perhaps, never heard of this significant incident, but they have probably heard that a law was passed this year#8212;and published in all the Athens newspapers—which gives extra-territorial rights to all members of the American Mission in Greece. These privileges are extended to the entire staff of the Mission and their families. They are exempt from all responsibility for offenses under Greek criminal law, regardless of whether the offense is committed in an official or a private capacity. Besides this, they are exempt from all direct and indirect taxation, customs and other taxes, as well as from the provisions of the laws on foreign currency. Furthermore, United States nationals in Greece, who are members of the Mission, are exempt from the provisions of the Greek law on the protection of labor.
The same rights and privileges were conceded, on the basis of the Agreement on the implementation of the Marshall Plan in Greece, of July 2, 1948, to the Special Mission for Economic Cooperation, whose task is to supervise the carrying out of the plan of so-called American aid.
This is a regime of colonial capitulations!
Such are, in brief, the facts concerning the independence of Greece, which has been asserted for the second year in succession by the Delegation of the very country which has become the actual master of Greece.
This is not only our personal opinion, nor the opinion only of sincere democrats in all countries, but it is an obvious reality which no one can deny. Even the Athens press is obliged to frankly speak about this.
Here are a few examples showing how this press refers to the "independence" of Greece.
Mr. Souphulis' newspaper Vima stated on September 5, 1948, the following:
"With the passing of time the impression grows that the prerogatives of the Greek Government in Greece are diminshing and that, on the other hand, the power and authority of the American Mission are increasing. To see how true this is, it is enough to notice that in the last few weeks every category of Greek citizens who had to discuss and settle questions with the Greek Government and its Ministers, found it necessary to see, besides the Prime Minister and competent members of the Government, also the United States Ambassador and competent members of the United States Mission. We can only say that in this way—besides the general harm which could be done to the Greek state—the impression is being created that the country has already two Governments, although the Government of the country, directly responsible to the Greek people, seems not to exist any more."
The extreme rightist newspaper Ethnikos Kiriks of May 28, 1948, states: "Greece which did not submit, but said 'No' to her enemies, submitted to her friends. It is a lie that we govern ourselves, we are governed through the telephone and radio."
1. Mr. Griswold, at that time Chief of the United States Mission to Greece, was a former Governor of Nebraska. Certain Nebraska firms were the beneficiaries of very nice contracts for profitable operations in Greece under the Truman Doctrine.