Orders of the Day — Greece (Situation)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th April 1948.

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Photo of Sir Toby Low Sir Toby Low , Blackpool North 12:00 am, 16th April 1948

What I have read is the statement of the Government, and if the hon. Member wants to ask about that, let him ask the Government about it, and let me make my case as quickly and shortly as I can. In those circumstances, I am asking the Government what they are going to do. Has the time not come when words are quite useless? Has the time not come when even resolutions of the Assembly of the United Nations may be quite useless? The kernel of the problem in Greece is the guerilla activity, and in, my view it is most unlikely that the Greek Army by itself will be able to carry out the two tasks which have to be carried out in order that the rebels shall be cleared out—those are, sealing the frontier, and actively beating down the rebels. What is the view of the Government about that?

Let me in a few minutes, for I know other hon. Members want to speak, say what I think ought to be done. It is possible that the Government might, in the past, have justified doing nothing except through the United Nations organisation. We know now that the Security Council will not do anything About this position at this moment. We certainly know that the Balkan Commission has made a number of reports to the Assembly, but we know, or at least I am so informed, that the Assembly is not to meet to consider them until September. Can we afford that delay? Is it not clear that if in September the Assembly recommends the sending of military aid to Greece, that that military aid would not come into operation until March or April next year, which is 12 months from now?

Do the Government think that we can afford to delay all that time? If His Majesty's Government think that we cannot afford that delay is there any chance that we, in conjunction with the United States, could offer Greece some immediate help? I suggest now, as I have suggested previously, that soave kind of international force containing perhaps three divisions from the two countries concerned, namely the United States and Great Britain, supported by aircraft which could dominate all movement in the area, should be sent to the north of Greece to seal the frontier within practicable limits by controlling completely what might be termed an international zone in the north of Greece; very much on the same principle as a small zone in the south of Carinthia and Styria was sealed in Austria immediately after the war, when the Yugoslavs were threatening the independence of that part of Austria. I put this suggestion to the Government before; I am sure they cannot answer it at once today, but I put it in all earnestness once again, because the time has come when words are no longer any use in this matter.

There are two more things which the Government should do. Having done as I have suggested, they should inspect the Bulgarian demilitarised zone. I think that the time has come to do that. I wonder if they have considered inspecting that zone by air photography if they cannot inspect it by people on the ground? I do not wish to see the Government go outside the United Nations in this matter. If they decide to do something in conjunction with the United States let them ask for a special Assembly of the United Nations to ratify What they have decided to do.

Owing to the shortness of time I will not say any more beyond pressing upon the Government the importance of this problem. The Greek problem is only the Greek phase of a universal problem and we have little time to lose.