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Greece (Political Situation)

Volume 409: debated on Wednesday 11 April 1945

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20.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in Greece and on the events leading to the resignation of General Plastiras.

There have for some time been criticisms of General Plastiras' Government on the ground that they were no longer acting as a non-party administration. As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the bulk of these criticisms have come from E.A.M. who have made many allegations that the Varkiza Agreement was not being observed. More recently Right Wing extremists have tried to discredit General Plastiras by publishing a letter which he wrote to the Greek Minister in Vichy in 1941. The Regent in these circumstances decided that in view of the criticism of the Plastiras Government it would be better to form an entirely nonparty administration which could govern the country until the plebiscite and elections can be held. It is certainly the hope of His Majesty's Government that the new Greek Government will act with impartiality during this difficult period and that they will refuse to be influenced by extremists of either side. As has been frequently stated, it is the aim and object of His Majesty's Government to ensure by a fair and freely held plebiscite that the Greek people shall have full freedom to choose their own form of Government.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether, in general, the new Government is more or less monarchist in sympathy than 'the old one?

No, Sir, I certainly could not; I have no grounds on which to judge, but I understand the Prime Minister himself is not a man who has had any previous party affiliations. This Government will continue in office until such time as elections can be held with a plebiscite.

Could the right hon. Gentleman say how soon it is expected they will be able to hold these elections and plebiscite, and so clear up the situation?

My hon. Friend will understand that it is not for me to decide that and, obviously, there are a great many technical difficulties. We would hope as soon as it is technically possible, but I cannot think that will be within three or four months.

Has the right hon. Gentleman observed that one of the first acts of the new Government has been an attempt to destroy the Federation of Greek Maritime Unions, inside and outside Greece, and to replace it with a purely scab union?

That is the first I have heard of it; the hon. and learned Gentleman's telegraphic exchange must be very quick indeed.

In view of the sustained interest in Greece of.His Majesty's Government, were they consulted about this change of Government?

It is not for His Majesty's Government to be consulted about changes of Government in a friendly territory, but we take a friendly interest and we think, on the whole, a not unbenevolent interest in the events in Greece.

In the interests of nonparty Government, could the right hon. Gentleman not send the Minister of Information out there?

Is it not the case that the Royalists and pro-Fascists were responsible for getting rid of Plastiras, and that the new Admiral Prime Minister is a notorious monarchist and counter-revolutionary?

I do not think it is fair to say that, though I did observe that the Communists, who previously had no words bad enough for Plastiras, now regard him as something of a hero of their own.