At 3.00 hours A.M. this morning the Italian Minister handed me in person a Note in which the Italian Government accuse the Hellenic Government of having tolerated the use by the British Fleet, in the course of its naval operations, of Greek territorial waters, coasts and harbors, of having facilitated the provision of supplies to the British air forces, and also of having allowed the establishment of a military intelligence service directed against Italy in the Greek Archipelago. The Italian Government, says the Note, find themselves obliged to remind the Hellenic Government of the provocative attitude adopted towards the Albanian nation, as shown by the policy of terrorism directed against the population of Tsamuria and by the persistent efforts to create disturbances beyond the frontier. He adds that Italy can no longer tolerate the continuance of this state of things; that the neutrality of Greece has become more and more of a pure fiction. The Italian Government have therefore decided to demand from the Hellenic government, as a guarantee of the neutrality of Greece and the security of Italy, the right to occupy with their military forces, for the duration of the present conflict with their military forces, for the duration of the present conflict with Great Britain, certain strategic points in Greek territory.
The Italian Government demand that the Hellenic Government shall not oppose this occupation, not hinder the free passage of the forces detailed to carry it out. The Italian Government requests the Hellenic Government to issue at once to the military authorities the necessary orders, so that the occupation in question may be effected peaceably, and add that, should the Italian forces meet with resistance, such resistance will be crushed by force and that the Hellenic Government will bear the responsibility for any consequences that the Hellenic Government will bear the responsibility for any consequences that may ensue.
In handling me the above communication the Italian Minister added verbally that the Italian forces would start advancing into Greek territory at 6 a.m.
I replied to the Italian Minister that I regarded the contents of this Note and the form of an ultimatum in which it was put as amounting to a declaration of war on the part of Italy against Greece.
I add for your information that Greece will resist the Italian invasion with all her forces. METAXAS.