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Volume 409: debated on Wednesday 28 March 1945

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Allied Assistance


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement of reassurance to the Greek people that all promised financial and other assistance from this country or from Allied nations will be given independently of the results of the forthcoming plebiscite and general elections.

As far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, I can give an assurance that the results of the plebiscite and the general elections will not affect any promises of assistance which have been made to Greece. I cannot speak for the Allies, but if my hon. Friend has in mind the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, he will no doubt be aware of the resolution which provides that relief and rehabilitation shall be distributed on the basis of the relative needs of the population and without discrimination because of race, creed or political belief.

Whilst thanking my right hon. Friend for that most satisfactory statement may I ask him whether he will have it repeated in Athens—[An HON. MEMBER: "And in Bulgaria"]—I am thinking about Athens—as people in Greece are being told that unless they vote for the present Greek Government or the Monarchy, British support will be withdrawn?

All sorts of foolish statements have been made but the Government's policy is set out here.

Varkiza Agreement


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has considered the protest made to the British Ambassador by E.A.M., to the effect that various departures from the Varkiza Agreement are being made on the other side; and what action he has taken on this protest.

I would refer to the statement I made on 14th March, in which I said that the Greek Government had undertaken to examine all the allegations made by E.A.M. and to take action in any cases where they are found to be correct. For their part, His Majesty's Government regard it as most important that the Agreement should be strictly observed by both sides.

Has the Foreign Secretary had any report on the result of these investigations by the Greek Government?

No, I have not. I understand that most of these allegations refer to local incidents in different parts of the country.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say specifically what action His Majesty's Government are now taking to see that the Agreement is properly carried through?

I dealt with that last time. I said that this information was communicated to the Greek Government, and interviews have taken place on the subject between members of the Greek Government and E.A.M. members.

Voting (Supervision)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any steps have yet been taken to secure that, when a general election or plebiscite is held in Greece, there are sufficient impartial observers on the spot to secure, as far as possible, a free vote of the electors.

As has already been announced, His Majesty's Government would be prepared to help in supervising elections in Greece and would welcome the co-operation of their Allies. The Greek Government have stated that they intend to ask for such assistance. No detailed preparations have yet been made to provide observers, since it is not yet possible to fix even an approximate date on which the plebiscite or elections will be held. When the time comes, however, we shall certainly try to ensure that any supervision which may be agreed upon shall be effective.

Do I understand from that, that other members of the United Nations will be asked to send delegations to supervise?

In addition to a free vote, will these observers ensure a secret ballot and an accurate counting of votes; and will this procedure also be carried out in Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Poland?

My hon. and gallant Friend knows that we shall certainly do our best to ensure that in Greece. It is our desire to ensure the same practice everywhere. We think that is the only way in which the result will be satisfactory.

British Forces (Use)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the fact that British troops are now garrisoning areas previously occupied by E.L.A.S. and of the recently attempted legislation which threatened freedom of speech, he will take all necessary measures to ensure that they will not be made use of in any way or at any time in such a manner as might intimidate Greek citizens or prevent the free expression of political and social opinion, as promised in the E.A.M.-Plastiras agreement of 12th February.

I am not sure what my hon. Friend has in mind when he speaks of recent attempts to impose legislation threatening freedom of speech. As regards the British Forces in Greece, one of their tasks is to ensure that law and order are maintained, and they must enjoy the necessary powers for this purpose. Subject to this qualification, however, I can give an assurance that they will not be used to intimidate Greek citizens or to prevent the free expression of political and social opinions. Indeed, I might add that at no time have they been used for any such purpose, and that the constant objective of His Majesty's Government in Greece has been to create conditions in which the Greek people could freely take their own decisions about the future form and composition of their Government.