16 FEBRUARY 1945, Page 1



THE conclusion of peace between the rival factions in Greece on Monday, and the abolition of martial law, were fitting preludes to the unexpected and spectacular appearance of Mr. Churchill and Mr. Eden in Athens on Wednesday. The course of events completely vindicates British policy. E.L.A.S. will hand over their arms under the supervision of British officers, and later a plebiscite and elections will be held under Allied observa- tion. General Plastiras has stated that there could have been no peace if the British had not intervened. Responsibility lay upon the British because they were there to drive out the Germans, to bring food to the starving, and, as an obvious corollary, to maintain order in the transition period. The alternative to intervention would have been to reject responsibility, withdraw from the country and leave the Greeks to fight out the war to the bitter end. If such an unthinkable course had been adopted, there can be no doubt that there would have been a war of extermination till one side was completely victorious, and that a regime based upon force alone would have been established. The British, obvi- ously disinterested in this conflict, have prevailed upon both sides to refrain from pushing The war to extremes, with the result that the Government has been induced to be conciliatory and the rebels to hand in their arms. Needless to say, the immediate miracle of good will between the parties is scarcely to be looked for. The parties remain embittered, and are organising their forces for the coming electoral contests, and nothing will have to be left undone to dis- courage the resumption of disorder. But public opinion—in Athens certainly, and probably in the rest of Greece—is shocked by the outrageous sequel to liberation, and appears to be profoundly relieved at the prospect of settling its political problems by peaceful procedure. The best contribution that the Allies can make to ensure the settlement, after supervising the surrender of arms, is to push forward supplies of food and other essentials to the hungry population.