In what appears to herald a chilling of relations between Athens and Moscow, the six-month-old Socialist government of Andreas Papandreou has moved into direct confrontation with the Moscow-allied Greek Communist Party.
Yesterday, Papandreou's party made public a document accusing the Communists of sabotaging the work of the government.
The release of the document coincided with the disclosure that Athens strongly disapproves of a recently announced pre-election alliance between Cyprus President Spyros Kyprianou and the powerful Moscow-line Cyprus Militant Working People's Party.
Greek officials today indicated that these moves constitute a bid by the Papandreou administration to clarify and contain the role of the Communist Party (KKE) and, indirectly, Moscow on Greek political life.
"It is necessary to set clearly the limits of the KKE's role in Greece. It must be understood that although our policy is not unqualifiedly pro-West neither is it pro-Soviet. It is a policy which is above all nationalist," one high official said.
These developments came as Athens and Washington appear to be gearing up for the start of negotiations on the future of the U.S. bases in Greece.
It was announced here this afternoon that Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. will visit Athens "for an exchange of views on bilateral issues" in Ankara, in mid-May.
After the October elections that brought the Greek Socialists to power on an anti-NATO platform, the Soviet Union publicly backed Greece in its Aegean region territorial disputes with Turkey. At the same time, the Papandreou government took a soft line on Poland, dissociating itself from the United States and Western Europe regarding economic sanctions against the Soviet Union.
In Greece, the new Soviet position was expressed through Communist Party support of the Papandreou government. Although it won only 13 seats in the 300-member parliament, the Communist Party is powerful among the labor force, on whose good will the government depends in its critical task of reviving the economy.
In recent weeks, however, the Communist Party has stepped up criticism of the Papandreou administration for failing to move quickly to fulfill campaign promises to pull out of NATO and shut down the U.S. bases in Greece.