As more information became known about the government's call this weekend for an Army and police alert here, analysts generally agreed today that the move was a reaction to reports of incipient coup plans rather than any actual attempt.
Sources here yesterday had said there were reports that a coup attempt against the Socialist government of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou originating in northern Greece had been put down during the weekend and several Army officers had been arrested. Although information about the reports is still sketchy, a few more details were available today.
The first in a sequence of events reportedly occurred Saturday with the recall to duty positions of military personnel on leave. This was followed late Saturday night by Papandreou's return to his home from a beach suburb. Police units were placed on alert in the area where Papandreou lives and around the Athens headquarters of Greek radio and television.
A number of key ministers, including the minister to the president, the interior minister, the minister of public order, the merchant marine minister and at least one of the two vice ministers who act as deputies to Papandreou in his second role as defense minister reportedly were on alert through Saturday night at the "Pentagon," as the Defense Ministry complex is known here.
The entire Cabinet and secretaries general of all the ministries were called into their offices yesterday.
Officials of the pro-Moscow Communist Party of Greece, the major left-wing opposition party, confirmed in a telephone interview today that a "very high government source" advised party headquarters yesterday that the government was "experiencing difficulties," apparently related to the Army, and that the government source asked that the party place its members on alert. The same sort of advisory was apparently delivered to the tiny Communist Party of Greece--Interior.
At 8 p.m. yesterday, an Army readiness exercise was launched, reportedly involving units in the Attica Basin where Athens is located as well as northern Greece. Papandreou reportedly had briefed party leaders on the exercise yesterday afternoon.
Communist Party officials also said that the same government source had assured the party that "full explanations" of the precise crisis confronting the government would be given once the immediate problems had passed.
No such explanation has been produced, however, as the government seems intent on burying the entire matter. The only official statement so far remains that of press undersecretary Dimitrios Maroudas, who announced last night and again today that the weekend police and Army movements were part of a "routine" readiness exercise.
Meanwhile, Papandreou met today with major conservative opposition leader Evangellos Averoff. Averoff, who heads the New Democracy party, accused Papandreou of trying to substitute for the normal state mechanisms for preserving order and democracy those "party mechanisms of the two allied political parties of the left."
This was a reference to Pasok, the governing Socialist Party, which also went on alert, and the Communist Party.
Also fueling speculation here was the annual report of officer promotions and retirements. Among those listed as retiring was Maj. Gen. Dimitrios Demestichas, commander of the 4th Army Corps stationed in the northern area along the Turkish border, the reported focus of the military restlessness.