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376 Evatt to Bruce

Cablegram 202 CANBERRA, 16 December 1944


Your telegrams [1] on Greece. I entirely endorse your attitude, which seems to me to be firm and correct.

2. Can you ascertain- (i) Whether any Australians are in guerrilla forces (ii) Whether any Australians are or have been included in air or other units engaged in the Athens fighting.

3. As for the general situation the two main considerations to my mind are:-

(i) That the Regent should neither be nor appear to be partisan;

(ii) That elections should be completely free and not long delayed.

4. Greece is another example of irrevocable action taken without the prior agreement of the Dominions. The matter of the Polish Western Frontier [2] is an even clearer case, as you know, of failure to consult before commitments are entered into. The time may be opportune for you to press for inclusion of the Dominions in the European Advisory Commission, or at least for some precise arrangement for British Commonwealth consultation before definitive action of this kind is taken. It may be necessary for you to correct the impression evident in the House of Commons [3] that the Dominions impliedly approved of the action taken in Greece. I thought it better to leave the matter to yourself on the spot and was greatly impressed with the facts as stated to you by the Greek Ambassador. [4]

5. I saw Curtin here last week when Donald Nelson [5] and I visited him. He seems to me to be definitely improving. He expressed concern over Churchill's speech. [6]

6. In this matter of Greece and related matters it is best for you to exercise the broadest discretion bearing in mind Australia's special interest in Greece and our opinion that restoration of the monarchy should not either directly or indirectly be forced upon an unwilling people. If you can use these occasions to further the aim of a more definite voice by the Dominions in European affairs you will [per]form an important service not only to Australia but also to all the Commonwealth.

7. It may be necessary for me to make a public statement on this question and I would like you to telegraph me on the whole subject.

1 See Bruce's cablegrams 172[A] and 176A of 11 and14 December, respectively. On file AA : A989, E43-44,370/4/3. In cablegram 172[A] Bruce noted that he had advised the U.K. Govt of the Commonwealth Govt's deep interest in Greece. In cablegram 176A Bruce reported his view that the King of Greece should make way for a Regent.

2 See Document 343.

3 Churchill was asked in the House of Commons on 14 December whether Dominion Govts had been consulted on U.K. action in Greece. Churchill replied that the mechanisms of government did not allow for step-by-step consultation but that the Dominion Govts were kept fully informed by cablegram. He added he believed the Dominion Govts approved the action taken in Greece. See House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol. 406, cols 1340-1.

4 Thanassis Aghnides. See Bruce's cablegram 169A of 7 December, on the file cited in note 1.

5 Personal representative of President Roosevelt, then in Australia.

6 For Churchill's speech of 8 December see House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol. 406, cols 926-47.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History