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Digital Archive International History Declassified

April 15, 1971

URGENT NOTE FROM W. PASZKOWSKI ON CONVERSATION WITH VIKTOR BAKIN, COUNSELOR OF THE SOVIET EMBASSY IN WARSAW

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    Summary of Soviet foreign, economic, and military relations with Somalia. In reaction to Siad Barre's military coup, the Soviet Union plans to intensify relations with Somalia.
    "Urgent Note from W. Paszkowski on Conversation with Viktor Bakin, Counselor of the Soviet Embassy in Warsaw," April 15, 1971, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Archiwum Ministerstwa Spraw Zagranicznych [Warsaw], D.V-1972, 31/75, W-3, OG-O-240-1-71. Obtained and translated by Radoslav Yordanov. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/134765
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Department V

Warsaw, 15 April 1971
Secret

Copy No. 

Urgent Note

On April 13, I received a visit by Comrade Viktor Bakin, counselor of the Soviet Embassy in Warsaw, who delivered the following information regarding the state of relations between the Soviet Union and Somalia:

After the military coup in Somalia on October 21, 1969 and the assumption of power of General Siad’s [Barre] Revolutionary Council, many positive elements in Somali domestic and foreign policies can be observed. Therefore, the Soviet Union is planning to comprehensively activate its relations with that country. With regard to the existing relations between the two countries it should be noted:

In terms of mutual contacts

In October 1970, Soviet delegation, headed by the First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR Comrade Polansky visited Somalia on the occasion of the anniversary of the revolution (coup), during which a joint communiqué was signed. Talks on the international situation showed convergence, and often even identity of views of both parties. The Chairman of the Supreme Council of the USSR, Comrade Podgorny and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, Comrade Kosygin, invited the Chairman of the Revolutionary Council of the Democratic Republic of Somalia, General Siad. He plans to visit the Soviet Union in 1971. General Siad, on his part, invited Comrades Podgorny and Kosygin to visit Somalia (dates to be determined). The leaders of the two countries held constant, confidential exchange of views. General Siad sent to the Soviet leaders over 20 letters (including 10 letters to Comrade Kosygin) on various aspects of Somalia’s socio-political issues and the situation in Africa (i.e. Uganda) and the basin of the Indian Ocean. The Soviet Union considered the exchange of opinions useful and supportive of its views. During President Nasser’s funeral in Cairo General Siad met and held talks with Comrade Kosygin on Somalia and the situation in the Middle East. It is assumed that in furthering the contacts along party lines, two Soviet experts are to help Somalia organize its political party, provisionally called Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party. Somalia also benefits from Soviet support for the development and organization of youth and women unions. Since February this year, 15 Somalis are studying at the Party’s Higher School in Moscow. At their own request, the Somalis received from the Soviets Marxist literature in the Italian language. The Revolutionary Council of the Democratic Republic of Somalia was represented at the XXIV Congress of the CPSU by two representatives, one of whom gave a speech.

In 1970, a Soviet youth delegation visited Somalia. Soviet social organizations gave Somalia in 1970 material assistance in relation with the drought, totaling RUB 170,000.

In the economic field

Economic relations between the Soviet Union and Somalia are based on the framework of economic cooperation, signed by both countries in 1961. Soviet Union offered Somalia long-term loan of RUB 40 million (2.5%). Under this loan, USSR built in Somalia the following: dairy and meat processing plants (part of the meat is exported to the USSR), seaport at Berbera in the Gulf of Aden, a canned fish factory. RUB 11 million are still remaining at Somalis’ disposal from this loan. As part of the unpaid value of RUB 5 million, USSR built in Somalia: boarding school, two hospitals, and one printing facility. In February this year, Soviet economic delegation in Somalia signed a protocol on trade for 1971. On this occasion, the Soviet Union offered Somalia an additional loan of RUB 5 million. Moreover, a Somali debt of RUB 2 million toward the Soviet Union was canceled and allocated as a loan for the purchase of agricultural machinery from the USSR for the organization of agricultural farms in Somalia. The production capacity of existing enterprises is planned to be extended while projects for the construction of new industrial enterprises are under consideration. The sending of additional Soviet specialists to Somalia was also agreed. Currently there are 111 Soviet specialist, outside the military field, in Somalia, including five professionals working in various government departments. Thirty-two Soviet teachers and 18 Soviet doctors are planned to travel to Somalia this year. There are 350 Somalis, except those at military academies, to be currently studying in the Soviet Union. An agreement on the mutual recognition of academic qualifications. USSR fully equips two schools with printed textbooks for the fifth and the eight grade in English. There are representations of the news agencies TASS and APN in Mogadishu.

Trade turnover between the two countries is rather modest. Their value amounted in 1969 to RUB 2 million, in 1970 – RUB 2.8 million. Somalia has small export opportunities. Somalia's foreign debt totals USD 390 million. Its main creditors are Italy, the USSR, the USA and the FRG. Somalia's foreign exchange reserves amount to USD 14 million.

In the military field

USSR also provides military assistance to Somalia. Somali army, numbering 14,000 troops, is almost exclusively equipped with Soviet weaponry and is trained by Soviet military specialists. Somali staff officers are trained in the Soviet Union.

In order to further deepen the socio-economic reforms, implemented by the current Somali government, and its relations with the forces of socialism, the USSR seeks to further promote its relations with Somalia and hopes that the other socialist countries will also develop economic and political relations with Somalia. It would be desirable, therefore, to coordinate USSR’s and the other socialist countries’ activities for the development of the relations with Somalia.

[signature]

W. Paszkowski

[...]

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