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Profiles of Greece
Nicholas Econopouly

February 17, 1964

Papendreou got solid majority. The Right and the Communists both lost seats. The Communists' appeal to do something substantial about Cybrus seems to have been largely ignored in favor of Papendreou's break-and-butter approach. His big gamble has paid off and he's finally in a position to do something about the economic and other reforms he's been demanding. The death of Venizelos, with whom Papendreou shared power in the Center Union, will probably also mean more freedom of movement for Papendreou. Of the two, Venizelos was the more conservative. Papendreou now has power for four years (but he's 76). It will be a decisive four years.

Big rumor today - most Greeks we've spoken to believe it: the King is dead. A guy asked me about the books. I told him the plane hadn't left yet - for some reason it has been delayed. Immediately he looked very interested. I told him George-the-Pilot was concerned about something. "Ah! It's true then. The King is dead." Greeks love to talk. A rumor roars through the country in a matter of hours. Newspapers pick it up, treat it as something close to fact, give it another shove. The principal job of the embassy seems to be trying to catch some of these rumors, kill them before they do real damage. Example: a rumor last fall had it that there was a deal between the U.S. and Bulgaria that if Bulgaria gave up Communism then the U.S. would give her (we're all powerful - "Why don't you settle the Cyprus situation NOW?") Greek Macedonia and an outlet to the sea. I'm not sure we should be very concerned about them - the Greeks, I suspect, play with them because they're a source for more lively conversation; they mostly don't believe them. And they like Americans - but they're suspicious of the American government, (but nowhere as suspicious as they are of Englishmen and the English government). They loved Kennedy with a passion (he was Kennedy - what does that have to do with government?) They're not sure about Johnson this week (one guy told me that Johnson had been too friendly with John Foster Dulles.)

Perhaps we should concern ourselves less with our image, more with accomplishing those kinds of things which will help Greeks to help themselves.

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