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Enlarged Photograph (62kB)

Territorial reconstruction
Cyprus, northern Epirus The Dodecanese

The inauspicious prospects

Cyprus, northern Epirus

Already in early spring 1941, the then Prime Minister Korizis - facing defeat by Germany and the need to move the base of the Greek government - had implicitly asked Britain to display a more positive attitude to the issue of Cyprus, allowing the settlement of the Greek government there.

Although the British authorities did not wish the transfer of the Greek government to the island, as Prime Minister Tsouderos later requested, Britain avoided specific commitments with regard to the future fate of Cyprus, leaving the issue for future consideration after the end of the war. On the issue of northern Epirus, in autumn 1941, the exiled Greek government submitted a detailed memorandum to the British government which included all arguments in favour of granting the region to Greece. Apart from the ethnological argument (i.e. the existence of a sizeable Greek minority residing there) and the invocation of historic ties of the region with Greece, the advance of Greek troops in the territories of northern Epirus during the Greek-Italian war had added another argument to the memorandum of the exiled Greek government for the incorporation on the region in postwar Greece.

Additionally, the Greek government invoked the July 1919 agreement between Venizelos and the then Italian Foreign Minister, Tomasso Tittoni, according to which Greece would gain the territories of northern Epirus in return for recognising the Italian mandate over the remaining part of Albania. This agreement was never executed because of the opposition of the Great Powers and the change of Italian policy; yet, the issue remained unresolved for the Greek side and was reinvoked in 1941.

However, on this issue too the British side came up with significant counter-arguments: the non-viability of a postwar Albanian state in the frontiers which the Greek demands suggested, the moral need to reward the national front which had been created for the liberation of the country and the fragile equilibrium of international forces in the Balkan peninsula which emerged from 1944 onwards with the division of spheres of influence in Europe.

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