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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 29, 1977

POLISH MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 'URGENT NOTE ON AID TO ETHIOPIA FROM THE COUNTRIES OF THE SOCIALIST COMMUNITY, INCLUDING POLAND’S'

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    Discusses the state of affairs in Soviet Bloc-Ethiopian relations, briefly charting other socialist states’ involvement with Addis Ababa during that period. It also draws suggestions for the possible path of relationship expansion between Poland and Ethiopia, including small military deliveries, as suggested by the Soviets.
    "Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 'Urgent note on Aid to Ethiopia from the Countries of the Socialist Community, Including Poland’s'," January 29, 1977, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Archiwum Ministerstwa Spraw Zagranicznych [Warsaw], D.V, 13/81, W-6, 1977, B-20, 2. Obtained and translated by Radoslav Yordanov. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/134776
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MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

No. 0-56/D.V./77

Warsaw, 29 January 1977

Secret

URGENT NOTE

on aid to Ethiopia from the countries of the socialist community, including Poland’s.

I. The internal situation of Ethiopia and its relations with Somalia.

The political situation in Ethiopia is unstable. Even though it has been over two years since the overthrow of the feudal regime, internal tension increased. The progressive socialist transformations have caused armed resistance on the part of the Ethiopian feudal lords and the bourgeoisie, supported by the West. They joined leftist and anarchist forces and terrorist attacks intensified. Other factors that complicate and deepen Ethiopia’s internal tension are the yet unsolved Eritrean problem (a separatist movement) and the worsening relations with Somalia. The latter has not concealed its territorial claims against Ethiopia. The Ethiopians unsuccessfully demanded from Somalia the guaranteeing of the independence of the future state of Afars and Issas (Djibouti), after it has been granted independence by France.

The relations between Ethiopia and the Sudan has worsened and they could lead to an armed conflict. Sudan is actively involved in helping Eritrean secessionists.

In light of this extremely complicated situation, threatening the progressive changes in Ethiopia, the military government is turning to the socialist countries, expecting help from them.

In mid-October 1976, Mengistu and the deputy head of the military government held talks with the heads of socialist state’s representations. Referring to the difficult situation and that they want to give up the supplies of US weapons, he asked the socialist states to provide adequate quantities of arms to Ethiopia.

In parallel with Mengistu’s request, the head of the Commission for reconstruction and aid, Adugna, sought civilian aid. Initially, he asked for the provision of means of transport, tractors, agricultural machinery, irrigation equipment and experts.

II. The position of the USSR

According to the Soviet comrades, the development of the relations between Ethiopia and the socialist community would help strengthen the position of the current military leadership. Taken in that context, however, steps should not raise doubts in the Somali leadership as to the desire and willingness of our countries to deepen relations with Somalia.

According to the information provided by the Soviet comrades, Poland could favorably consider Ethiopia’s request for the supply of small arms (produced under Soviet license).

Soviet Union is working toward the finding of peaceful resolution to the disputes between Ethiopia and Somalia. It insists on the initiation of talks between Somalia and Ethiopia and aims to bring together those countries whose aims and objectives are the same.

In order to review the Soviet-Ethiopian relations and the situation in the region [an Ethiopian] delegation is to be sent to Moscow.

Our mission to Addis Ababa does not rule out that the Ethiopian delegation may request a visit to Poland.

III. Involvement of the socialist countries

So far, among the socialist states, only the Soviet Union and Bulgaria have agreed to provide certain quantities of arms to Ethiopia through Libya. The Bulgarians took by themselves the whole operation of delivering weapons by air (Sofia-Tripoli-Addis Ababa).

Soviet Union provides the largest range of civilian aid and assistance grants (including staff training, scholarships, etc.). In general, compared to Ethiopia’s needs, the involvement of other socialist states, outside Czechoslovakia and GDR, is insufficient. It takes the form of receiving study delegations and awarding scholarships. On his way back from Africa, GDR’s Foreign Minister visited Ethiopia. He promised to increase their consulting aid. The GDR gave a one-time assistance as a gift to Ethiopia, supplying by air medicine, clothing and food. The Romanians did similarly by sending military tents, blankets, bandages and medicines.

Czechoslovakia, however, decided to expand economic cooperation as well as this in science and technology.

Two new agreements on economic cooperation and science and technology were signed.

Talks on the expansion of the Czechoslovak munitions factory and the construction of a light weapons factory, using Czechoslovak loans, were started.

A visit of the Czechoslovakia’s foreign minister to Ethiopia is planned.

IV. Poland’s provision of aid for Ethiopia is rather symbolic. Recently, we have agreed to cover the travel expenses of a two-man delegation of Ethiopian trade unions to study, in accordance with its wishes, the structure and the activities of our unions.

Moreover, we informed our post, that PZU and Warta are ready at any time to take a 2-3-person delegation for 2-3 weeks in order to familiarize it with the insurance system in Poland.

We increased the number of students. In the past, we used to award 5 scholarships to Ethiopians. In the academic year 1976/77, we awarded 10 higher education scholarships, 2 scholarships for doctoral studies, 1 scholarship for a higher course of economic planning at the Warsaw School of Economics, and 40 one-month scholarships for practical training in mid- technical courses.

The amount of trade with Ethiopia is a small one, of more than 9 million zloty in the 11 months of 1976 the import is 6,302,000, the export – 2,985,000.

V. Conclusion

The difficult and complicated situation in Ethiopia warrants Poland’s military and civilian help.

1. It would be advisable to consider military assistance in the form of light weapons.

Soviet Comrades suggest the provision of arms produced under the Soviet license in the amount of 6,000-7,000 pieces. Larger supplies could complicate the relations between Somalia and the USSR and the other socialist states (Dep. No. 33 from Moscow).

2. The Ethiopian side highly assessed the welcome given to the delegation of the Ethiopian police during its stay in Warsaw (May 1976) and referring to the talks turned to us with a request (note) to establish cooperation in the field of police training and for the transformation of the Ethiopian police into socialist militia. We propose to grant the requests of Ethiopians and, as suggested by our post, to send 2-3 training instructors to Ethiopia.

3. To consider the sending of a delegation of agriculture experts to Ethiopia, which after hearing the Ethiopians’ needs, and in accordance with our abilities, to prepare proposals for our help (for example, [the delegation] could study the conditions for dispatching experts to work in agricultural institutions, if necessary to provide assistance in the form of irrigation pumps).

4. To recommend to the Committee of Solidarity with the Peoples of Asia and Africa and the Polish Red Cross to provide some material assistance, medical equipment and medicines, among others.

5. To send a delegation of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to Ethiopia or to accept such in Poland to discuss the matter with the relevant support by the Ministry of Health, including the sending to Ethiopia of Polish doctors, also on contracts with "Polservice."

6. To examine the possibility of extending trade with Ethiopia.

A. Pierzchała

[...]

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