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March 9, 1982

Stenographic Transcript of the Official Talks between Erich Honecker and Yasser Arafat in the House of the Central Committee of the SED in Berlin

This document was made possible with support from The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

[SED Central Committee]

[Department of International Relations]

Uncorrected [sic][1]


Stenographic Transcript

of the Official Talks between the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the SED and Chairman of the State Council of the GDR, Erich Honecker, and the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Palestinian Revolution, Yasser Arafat, in the House of the Central Committee of the SED in Berlin


Tuesday, 9 March 1982

(Begin: 1535 Hours)

Erich Honecker:

I again want to welcome you, Comrade Arafat, as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Palestinian Revolution, as well as the members of your delegation, in the most cordial way. I am welcoming you as a long-time, loyal friend and fellow comrade of our people, who are having closest to with the struggle of the Palestinian people under your proven leadership. As you know, they [the people of the GDR] are also actively supporting this struggle.

We are happy for the successes the PLO has achieved in its struggle for world-wide recognition, and there is no doubt it will continue achieving them; because the PLO and its armed forces are a real power. This is significantly contributing towards fostering in the end and ultimately the breakthrough of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, especially their right to a national state of their own. As I have already told you in private, we will also in the future do everything possible to effectively support your struggle.

The world-wide struggle for securing the peace will be of great importance in this regard; this is the struggle for preservation of mankind from a nuclear disaster, which is provoked by the overbearing arms race policy of NATO, especially of the United States. We are firmly convinced that the peoples will indeed use the chance to avert this danger.

As a significant part of this struggle for the avoidance of a global catastrophe we do consider the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people under the leadership of the PLO for the implementation of their right to self-determination. From our side we are eager to support their efforts also in the future, as I have already expressed.

In the context of other issues we have already discussed in advance, and which are also characteristic for the development of our relations, we deem it current to elevate the status of your diplomatic Representation in the German Democratic Republic and change your Representation into an Embassy, if you agree. This will underscore in terms of international law that a resolution of the Middle East Question is not possible without the acceptance of the right of the Palestinian people to a state of their own under leadership of the PLO and the return of all Palestinians to their homeland.

The resolution of the Palestinian question is still the core issue of the Middle East problem. This is why we were eager, in mutual agreement, to assign to your current visit in the German Democratic Republic the status of an official state visit.   

It is filling us with great joy and satisfaction to continue, at the occasion of the official friendship visit to the German Democratic Republic, the constructive dialogue between us which did never cease and was always continuing. We are very happy that you are accompanied by such a representative delegation.

(Comrade Honecker introduces the members of the GDR delegation.)

Since I am the host, I am taking the liberty to follow old traditional custom and will let you speak [first], dear Comrade Arafat.

Yasser Arafat:

I want to use the opportunity to thank you again cordially for this present in my own name and in the names of my brothers and comrades. It was a great surprise to elevate our Representation to the status of an Embassy. This does strengthen the PLO and its position in the struggle against the attacks from world imperialism. I am of the belief that this step comes during a politically very important time where our movement is subjected to very fierce attacks.

When [President of France Francois] Mitterrand went to Israel and spoke at a press conference, he stated that he does not have the feeling that [Israeli Prime Minister Menachem] Begin will be undertaking a military action. [U.S. diplomat] Philipp Habib has said the same. But when you are monitoring it closer, then it indeed looks like such an action will be occurring. Yesterday evening a written message from [Austrian] Federal Chancellor [Bruno] Kreisky arrived where he is warning against a military action.

In our opinion this would be part of the American attack on the region of the Middle East. They [Israelis and Americans] are of the opinion that our weapons do not please the Americans and that our weapons are not obeying them. Thus they are focusing on such actions so that they can control us. The is why they are conducting this war of attrition, the war of 15 days. Now they are preparing for a new operation. Explosions are occurring in Beirut daily, where different sides are involved and bear the responsibility for them. This is Israel, and we have proof for this. Furthermore there are the isolationist Lebanese forces and the Second Bureau of the Lebanese Army. This is all part of a wide-ranging conspiracy against us, against the forces of progress, the Lebanese progressive forces, against the Syrian forces, and the Syrian security armed forces.

If we are talking about military actions, you have to note how they did expand to significant extent. They are not just aimed against the Palestinians but also against the Syrians. America is playing a major role here. When Philip Habib was in Lebanon, he did not meet with the Prime Minister or the President but only with officers, with the military. He said this is about Southern Lebanon. 

This is an issue one must point out. I am thinking this is part of the American attack, which is directed against the entire world.

In the Middle East, Lebanon is the main point of origin, and then it can happen every moment in every other corner of the world. In the Caribbean as well there is also occurring an attack against progressive forces, and the American navy is conducting a policy of encirclement against Cuba and Nicaragua. In the last month, the Israeli navy has announced it wants to intervene militarily in Lebanon, which is obviously within earshot of the 6th American Fleet. 

Or let us look at South Africa, or at the Iraqi-Iranian war one unfortunately has to call the war of the losers. We are all losing with this one. The Iraqis are losing, the Iranians are losing, the Palestinians are losing, the Arabs area losing, the non-aligned states are losing. We have sat down together. I am just coming from such a meeting that took place within the Muslim World League. I have tasked a colleague with bringing this issue to a solution, and I have left the meeting in order to come here. This war must come to a standstill. Both sides are accusing each other that their respective dignity has been violated, that there is a blow against their prestige. However, thousands have been killed and the economies of both countries are getting destroyed and dismantled.

Comrade Abu Lutf [Farouk al-Kaddoumi] has participated in a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement. We will monitor the problem that occurred on Bab-el-Mandeb[2]. A war is declared, but it is not the question whether a war has been declared officially. The war is occurring between North and South Yemen, it is running between the fronts of Yemen. We do not know when it could break out between the two Yemeni states. I am planning to make a private visit there so we can search for feasible solutions. Currently military committees of the Palestinians are working for establishing a ceasefire between both sides. Also as far as Northern Africa is concerned, what is happening in Sudan, and what is happening now in Egypt - all this we have to take into consideration. In the Egypt after [Anwar al-]Sadat, what position one will have to take?

We are in favor of Egypt returning - but on our conditions, not the conditions of the Americans. When the conference in Fez had failed [translator’s note: the 12th Arab League Summit, Session One, held in Fez, Morocco, on 6 November 1981], it was clear to us there will be no united Arab position without Egypt remaining an Arab country. The Americans want Egypt to return to the Arab countries but according to the conditions of Camp David [Agreement between the United States, Israel, and Egypt from September 1978].

We can say that we have developed relations with all forces of the people, with all the nationalist forces of the people of Egypt. Those relations were existing and developed even during the worst conditions we had under the Sadat regime. This is why we must think about how we deal with Egypt in the future. It has to return on your conditions and not on theirs. This is what we have to take into consideration, and this is what we are working for. It will not become worse as under Sadat - and who has watched the killing of Sadat will think about ten times before he is continuing his policy. Thus we have to exploit this situation.

Concerning Egypt we have to consider the following points: stabilization of the domestic situation. Currently the domestic situation is more than ever impeded and influenced bu the national Egyptian progressive forces of the people. This point was affirmed by the killing of Sadat. It is such that the economic situation in Egypt is bad. [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak has not succeeded in receiving additional aid from the Americans in economic terms.

Furthermore, after the death of Sadat the revenues from the Suez Canal, the oil revenues, and the income from tourism have declined. This means they are suffering from an economic crisis, and this will determine their behavior in the future.

In addition there is also their position regarding the autonomy of the Palestinian people. This is directly linked to the withdrawal of the Israelis.

Those are the points one has to consider if one wants to get along with Egypt in the future. This does require prudence without sympathies, at least without oriental [type of] sympathies, and this is why we as friends have to think about this together. If we are succeeding in winning Egypt back, it will be a win for us. And if we are losing it, it is a big loss for us. It can be a big win as well as a big loss. However, one must not forget that there is an American decision to continue with keeping Egypt under their dominance.

Mubarak has a big problem, which is the American presence. It is a domestic problem with which the Egyptian Army is concerned. How do we address the problem? They also have an additional problem, namely the problem of the multi-national forces supposed to be stationed on the Sinai. Now they are attempting, by diverting from this problem, to direct Israel’s attack towards us - this is to cover up this problem, the Sinai problem. There[3] I have talked about the Middle East, about Europe, the Pershing missiles and the cruise missiles, and the neutron bomb, and about the attempts currently going on in Poland that have not yet come to a standstill. This is obviously continuing there. They are attempting to launch a war of attrition from Poland the same way we are subjected to such, namely a war of attrition within the socialist camp like the war between Iraq and Iran. It would not have been possible for the American fleet, or a part of the British, the French, and the Australian fleet - and there are all under one military command -, to return into the Gulf - if it would not have occurred that the two major powers in the Gulf, namely Iraq and Iran, are at war with each other.

The worst thing we are experiencing now is the Arabization of this war. This is an Iraqi problem, a fundamental and very grave problem. It is to be expected that the situation will also explode in the Arab region. The Jordanians have sent volunteers. In reality, they are no volunteers. There are also about 16,000 Egyptian volunteers. They were formally dismissed from the Army and then they are enlisting as volunteers. It is even said that their number has already increased to 50,000. We have to take this into consideration, or maybe there are also additional countries getting engaged there?

The Arabization of the fight means the aggravation of the situation, and the danger lies in the explosion of the entire Arab situation.   

What is happening in Southeast Asia? You are following the problems better than we are doing. But this is just one part of international tensions. Which actions and activities are being undertaken by Australia, New Zealand, America? They have established a maritime force. They are having bases in this region. What is happening in Latin America, from El Salvador to Argentina? All these issues we have to consider; since the policy of the American Administration currently pursued is in fact just the policy of the Carter Administration as it has been conducted recently? We are one highest alert and have to be very careful.

Of course we must not let ourselves being too much impressed by words, but this is about viewing the things with clear eyes; since the doctor has to know what the patient’s disease is in order to be able treat him. We are of the opinion that the situation of the Arabs around us bad. It is offering the Israelis the opportunity to be free in their actions.

In addition, there is the international atmosphere. Furthermore, for this region there is the American decision to solve the Palestine question, however not in the overall context of the issue of the Middle East problem.

When it came to a ceasefire between us and Israel, [U.S. Secretary of State Alexander] Haig said the Lebanese problem has to be resolved far separate from the problem of the Middle East. And this is such because it is linked to three things:

1. To disarm the PLO;

2. Increase of the U.N. forces contingent in Southern Lebanon, increase of their effectiveness and expansion of their areas of operation in Southern Lebanon, including these areas where our Palestinian groups are located;

3. Stabilization of the current administration in Lebanon in military, political, economic, and security-related terms.

What does this mean? It means that the Palestinians and the Syrians have to leave Lebanon. And when we will be out, the Lebanese progressive movement will be dismantled, then there will be “security” for Lebanon as a launching area for the Americans as it had been in previous times.

Philip Habib did come and he wanted it that way. The ceasefire is still in place. Then followed the visits by Triber (?), the Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs[4]. This means, something has to be arranged so that they cannot establish this fortress there. They want to destroy the Palestinian arms and to solve the Lebanese problem, so that Lebanon will become again a sphere of influence of the Americans and then the Syrians will be dealt a blow. This is now the crux of the matter in the Middle East.

This is why I am saying we have to be very exact concerning these problems.

This does mean we have a grave responsibility to bear - a military responsibility, a security-related responsibility, a political responsibility. Whether we want it or not, we are in the front line. In front of us, massive Israeli troop contingents are deployed and are posing as a daily threat.

Unfortunately it is like that we are facing this military machine, including the modernly equipped American military machine, with very modest means. During this visit our military delegation has talked about this in detail. But it is well known, and we are also aware of this, that our friends in the GDR are not into arms production. However, I am asking you to support us to obtain well developed, modern weapons, so that we are able to defend ourselves against this terror, against these terrorist positions and repressions.

As far as our situation in the occupied territories is concerned, we can say one thing with great joy and great pride: When the Camp David Agreement came about, Sadat was asked what individual from the Palestinian people does agree with this solution of autonomy. Then he said the Palestinian people are in his bag. However, it has turned out that the Palestinian people are stronger and bigger than his bag. Neither the Egyptians, nor the Israelis or Americans, have found someone who is cooperating with them in the occupied territories, in spite of the repression and the organized terror. In addition, there is the killing of leading personalities, also of those who are already sitting in prisons. Of our people about 25,000 are sitting in Israeli prisons. They are occupying our space, our territories, our land. They are building fortresses, annex Jerusalem, the Golan [Heights]. They are uprooting leading personalities and are expelling them. They are expanding the confiscation of our land and soil and they build their fortresses on top, their settlements.

Nonetheless we are stating with great pride that our people have confronted these repressions. The last uprising occurred here days ago in Gaza and the West Bank out of solidarity with our people in the Golan. The Israeli police was forced to crack down on these uprisings with brute force. Of these things we are very proud.

We also have to address a very dangerous issue, namely the cementing of the military-strategic cooperation of Israel with the United States. Everyone knows that Israel is a forward post of the Americans. But the most dangerous aspect here its that this military-strategic cooperation is not just directed against the Palestinians with the Arabs but, as the Israelis did say in their official declaration afterwards, this pact is directed against the Soviet Union and the socialist countries. One is even going so far to say that these areas are designated for the stockpiling of reserves of weapons, ammunition, medications, and even of neutron bombs. And this is what one has to take into consideration.

There do exist three ports there under the supervision of the 6th American Fleet: Haifa, Jaffa, Ashkelon. As far as Ashkelon is concerned, the Americans would actually be not allowed to use it since, according try international law, it is not under Israeli authority. It was not designated to be on Israeli territory. According to the [1947] U.N. Partition Plan Jaffa is also Arab territory like Ashkelon. Also, the aerial forces now deployed in Nachab (?)[5] are on Arab territory according to the division decision. Even the Americans did agree with the Partition Plan. I think this is not a very strong point, but we still have to use this issue legally and propagandistically and address it in the context of international law. We can bring it before the International Court of Justice and the next session of the U.N. General Assembly. We will try it. This is a part of our struggle. This is not just about military struggle, here we certainly do agree with each other. It is the same issue like the publication of the crimes by the Israelis against the Palestinian and Lebanese people. I think we definitely have to apply those means of the struggle.

This raises the questions of how we are dealing with these things; in the next period the following tasks are lying ahead of us:

Strengthening of the relations of the armed forces with the forces of progress and socialism; restoration of solidarity within the Arabs on our conditions and not the conditions of the Americans, based on a foundation of the necessity to confront the menacing policy of the Americans and the Israelis.

At the same time we again have to mobilize the front of Arab resistance so that it becomes the linchpin of polarization within Arab solidarity. We have to strengthen the alliance of the Lebanese forces of progress with the Syrians and the Palestinians in Lebanon themselves. We also have to strengthen and support the national movement in Egypt and in Sudan.


Among the Arab countries there are two where, if the opposition gets its act together, the power, this is the administration, falls silent. This pattern does exist only in two countries, namely in Egypt and in Sudan. If the forces of opposition before Sadat are getting together and submit petitions there, which 450 from the opposition submitted, whether from the right or from the left, then they have surrendered because they know what the power is capable of.

I have always told this to my brothers and they are also aware of it. This is a method that has been proven.

What happened as a reaction to that? Sadat had them all arrested and threw them into prison. Then came the shots which ended the problem and solved it. The situation in Sudan is the same. If we succeed to assemble the opposition there around one table, then [Sudanese President Jaafar] Nimeiry will fall; because in his position Nimeiry depends on the Muslim Brothers and one grouping, the Machist[6] movement. All other groupings are against him. If we succeed to achieve the same position and follow the same course as in Egypt, then Nimeiry will fall. We also have to take into consideration this issue. This is about possessing exact knowledge.

Of course, one also has to support the situation of the people in Somalia. It is not comparable to the situation in Sudan or Egypt.

This in all brevity. Many thanks for providing us with the opportunity to explain our thoughts here.

As we all know, we do stand with our friends and compared in the first frontline. You [GDR] as well have always stood in the first position of those that supported us. You are aware of our difficult conditions.

Unfortunately the reputation of the Arabs is not good because of Arab disunity. Is has come this far that we are now facing alone the Israeli-American war machine. What is their [U.S. and Israel] interest now? Begin and [Israeli Minister of Defense Ariel] Sharon themselves have stated what their objective is. When Begin talked to Mitterrand, he used the term “destruction”. It would not be possible to use this term if there were a united Arab position. But unfortunately the situation of the Arab countries, in particular the domestic situation in the individual countries as well as the relationship between the individual Arab countries, is not identical. This is also the cause for the failure of the Fez Conference. This failure has consequences.

However, at the same time we have to know that the Americans will continue with their fight against us.

It is now up to us to determine how we will cope with the new military situation and how we can win in spite of our weak conditions we are starting from. I am saying it here without propaganda: We must prevail. - Of course, we cannot smash the Israeli Army at once. However, we can field resistance against the Israeli Army as it happened during the war of last year.

Because it was them who did ask to sign a ceasefire. We have won against them by points. In the confrontation lying ahead of us, we also have to win against them by points. And we will win against them against all odds. We have friends, and you know our Palestinian friends.


At the same time we have to know that there are now new attempts in our region. There exists a new axis which has been established: the axis of cooperation, the Cooperation of the “Gulf Council”[7]. Members of this Gulf Council are the Gulf countries including Saudi-Arabia. North Yemen has also filed a request to join this council. We have to take this into consideration.

There will further axes emerge and exist when the Israelis have withdrawn from the Sinai Peninsula. The political map of the Arab region will change. How are we dealing with this? How can we avoid that these axes will be directed against us? Because - what is good for us [PLO], is also good for you [GDR]. We are joined in one front. Obviously this will require political cleverness, political ability to maneuver, and strong foundations of principles and positions. This does require exact coordination, a coordination between friends and alliance comrades. We need such a coordination, so that we can establish a committee, a joint committee to monitor this development in the Middle East. I am already seeing the future map of the Middle East in front of me. It must not be drawn if we are not part of it. We have to be present when this map is drawn. We can do this. We are capable of this. 

The image of the reckoning with Sadat, the sentencing of Sadat, does show that we are on the right path. When now the assassins were sentenced, you can see that they were wearing such head coverings. This shows that they [Egyptian Islamist opposition] have influence. However, we are also of the opinion that every opposition group in Egypt is in the right place. This is about how we get along with them. The Egyptian national movement does need us more than ever before. One of their leaders once said: We must go to the streets so that Mubarak does not all expel us. - This was said by a prominent leader who has died in the meantime.

I am sorry that I have talked here for so long. However, all this is very important. I am saying here: We will not just field resistance against Israel and the United States, but we also issue them a defeat as we have done it last year. And it will be a lesson to them. We have some surprises for them in stock. And it would be good if the friends [GDR] would be able to participate in this, so that they also can learn from this.

As I said, I am sorry that I have talked here for so long. However, you have obviously to tell everything to your friends. Where else should we talk about this?

Erich Honecker:

Yes, this is exactly why we have come together here.

I want to thank you, dear Yasser Arafat, cordially for your statements regarding the situation in the Middle East and around the Middle East. They are evidence for the fact that the Middle East problem cannot be resolved without taking into account the just cause of the Palestinian people. As you know, this has always been our position and recent developments do again emphasize such.

Currently a large scale maneuver is occurring in the world. The forces of the new U.S. Administration, which is backed by strong multinational corporations, are eager to declare the entire world as their area of interest. In this endeavor, as it is well known, they are actually bothered by everything that is standing against such plans.

Thus we are now watching the play that allegedly even no other than the Soviets are responsible for the unresolved problems of the Middle East. You have referred to that in your statements as well. I want to underline this here: For everything happening in the world, the Soviets are supposed to be always to blame.

If we look at the situation in the Middle East, as it has been outlined here by you; and if we then move on to the situation in the Caribbean where, as you have remarked as well, currently the joint fleets of NATO, including a frigate from the Federal Republic of Germany, are conducting exercises - then it becomes evidently clear here that in two hotspots of the world a fire is laid which is supposed to contribute towards turning the efforts of the new U.S. Administration pertaining to military superiority into a success. However, between the two if of us there is no uncertainty that these intentions are built on sand. U.S. imperialism will never succeed in achieving military superiority over the Soviet Union and the other states of the Warsaw Pact.

Nonetheless we have to note that in this context the international situation has become aggravated. All crisis spots in the world must be worthy of our attention.

In a way we can assume that, according to the global strategy currently pursued by the United States, the decisive battle is supposed to be fought in Europe; because it is in Europe where the bulk of forces from the two large military alliance systems are located. This is a known fact. I do not have to elaborate here further on this. These two large alliance systems are NATO, where after the United States the Federal Republic of Germany is the second largest force, and the Warsaw Pact with the Soviet Union at its core.

For some time, one does claim to have found out that the military-strategic balance existing until the Vienna Conference[8] has changed to the disadvantage of the United States. And one is making big fuss about the “danger” emanating from the Soviet Union towards the states of the Western world. Polls were taken where also this question was asked: Do you prefer a war or the subjugation under Russia, under the Soviets?

It is apparent that the adversaries of the policy of peaceful coexistence between states of different political systems, headed by the most reactionary imperialist forces of the United States and the other NATO states, are eager to implement a large-scale armament build-up maneuver, while making big noises about the “Bolshevist danger”. They are hoping to stifle the peoples’ strive for freedom with the support of the massive pressure by these armament build-ups.

In light of the fact that never since the end of World War II peace in the world has been under such threat as of now, one has to make efforts to meet this danger of war with massive actions.

As you know, in Europe there are currently first steps undertaken to heal the situation in the People’s Republic of Poland, especially through the further deployment of the power and strength of the Soviet Union and its allies within the Warsaw Treaty. With the national decision by the Military Council for the National Salvation of Poland headed by General [Wojciech] Jaruzelski it was achieved to strengthen the unity of the socialist community and to establish the foundation for its enhanced positive impact on the development in the world, in the sense of peace and disarmament according to the principle of parity and equal security for everyone. At the same time, a very broad peace movement is emerging in Western Europe, which now also has boiled over to larger extent to the United States. I do not have to tell you more about this. You are aware of this. Thanks to the breadth and strength of this peace movement the United States are now thinking seriously about their influence in Western Europe. In this regard they are playing the most different keyboards. This goes until this threat by the United States: “We will withdraw our forces from Europe, if you continue to reject our missiles and the cruise missiles”.

However, a newspaper of the West German bourgeoisie just wrote in these days that such a threat would be unsuitable means after all, since this would resemble the slogan of the anti-nuclear movement of the 1940s: “Ami [American], go home”. When we were in the [communist] youth movement then, we were all singing: “Ami go home! Spalt’ für den Frieden dein Atom!”[9]

With this I wanted to say that currently a very tough struggle has emerged in Europe to avert a nuclear disaster that would affect the entire world. In this context, the resolution of such issues as in the Middle East does obviously play an extraordinary large role. Because the United States are trying to find partners for their anti-Soviet campaign everywhere and wherever they can find some, and they are applying the most different means in this regard.

With all that we are not losing track of the fact - I am assuming that we share the same position here - that the imperialist world system is not as united as it attempts to showcase. Without underestimating its military power, one has to state that the imperialist system is shaken by a large crisis.

Just during these days some hundred major industrialists of the United States have written a letter to President Reagan where they voiced two requests:

- He should reduce the defense budget.

- He should change his economic policy.

Indeed, these are the two most important pillars of policy of the Reagan Administration. This means, due to the crisis development in the United States such contradictions do emerge that parts of the bourgeoisie are against the Reagan Administration’s policies because they consider these policies as unreal and dangerous. Indeed it is like that: To submit a budget with a deficit of 100 billion -although during his [presidential] campaign Reagan had demanded the opposite- and thus to eliminate all progressive achievements since the time of [Franklin D.] Roosevelt - something like that has to indeed mobilize over time a major part of the nation.

The leader of the second strongest power within NATO, the Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Helmut Schmidt, did say:

“One must achieve two things:

First, one has to return to a more realistic policy in the United States. Before you trumpet something to the world, you should consult with your allies.

Second, one has to refrain from the high interest rate policy of the United States because such is ruining the West European economy”.

Indeed, if you add up the numbers of the unemployed in the developed industrial states, already now you have overall almost 30 million people in this category. As a man of the older generation, I have experienced something like that only in the years of 1930 and 1931. This was during the period of the great world economic crisis before World War II.

This means the imperialist world is not united but displays itself in all its contradictions. Its base has been reduced by the national liberation movements, which have accomplished that now more than 150 states are represented in the United Nations. Obviously each U.S. president is having sleepless nights when he is thinking about how fundamentally the world has changed. The United Nations have also recognized the PLO though not with approval by the United States. This is also a sign for how the world has changed.

Obviously there is now the attempt to find allies for the aggressive policy of the United States in the so-called Third World.

I do not want to talk now about Africa. This is known. The colonial system in Africa has been smashed down to the ground with the exception of some states like Namibia and South Africa. But if one has accomplished such for almost all of Africa, why should one not succeed also with regard to Namibia? This is just a matter of time. All that has been possible only by the weakening of imperialism and by the African peoples gaining strength.

In this context I want to express that I admire the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people against Israel.

In fact - I have already emphasized this -, the establishment of a sovereign, independent Palestinian state under the leadership of the PLO is the core issue for the resolution of the Middle East problem. There will be no statesman in the Arab world, even no statesman in the most reactionary Arab states, who will openly side with Israel’s position on this matter. This does pertain to both an independent Palestinian state as well as to Jerusalem. You can see this now again in the context of the [Israeli] annexation of the Golan Heights. It is really very impressive that the people in the occupied territories, the Palestinians, are resisting for years against the Israeli aggressors. 

It is very important for the resolution of all the problems in the world that one is looking for the most effective methods to blunt the spearhead of U.S. imperialism in Israel, this is in your region.

In light of the attempts by Western imperialist circles, which are of course unsuccessful, to exert influence on the policy of individual Arab states, the old truth is still holding: You cannot be friend of an aggressive Israel occupying Arab territories and win at the same time the friendship of the Arab nation. This is impossible. There is a great contradiction here.

Decisive is what also Comrade Arafat has expressed here, namely the restoration of solidarity of the Arabs to solve the Middle East problem. In this context, the importance of strengthening the front of resistance must not be underestimated. Furthermore, one has to accordingly respond in coordination to new developments.

This does also concern Egypt. It appears to be actually correct: Sadat is no longer around and Mubarak is thinking about how this is supposed to continue. He knows that he cannot follow in the footsteps of Sadat. The sympathy of the Arab people of Egypt is not lying with the Israelis. Thus we think it is the most important task to restore the Arab solidarity and exhaust in this context all opportunities to end the war between Iraq and Iran, since both countries are destroying with this war their economic and human resources. Thus they are helping the United States and their interventionist forces and damage the Palestinian cause.

As we can derive from various aspects, the military-strategic pact between the United States and Israel is supposed to result in a larger Camp David and thus in a perpetuation of Israel’s aggressive policy.

Therefore we have noted with great interest your statements about the situation in the Middle East. We are convinced: even if the armed forces of the Palestinian revolution are not technically as equipped as the Israelis, they are in conjunction with other forces in the Arab territories, and next to the socialist countries, a very strong force to thwart the Israeli great-power-policy as bolstered by the United States.

Among ourselves: How would developments in the Middle East have occurred if the Palestine Liberation Organization would not have existed and exist? - You are the backbone of the resistance. You are the crystallization point for the restoration of sovereignty of all Arabs. With a full development of unity among the Arab states, you will be also able to deal with the military-strategic pact between the United States and Israel. Of course we have to address with great prudence the question that Yasser Arafat has raised here, which I do not want to elaborate on in detail now.

You have correctly referred to the current naval maneuvers of the United States in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. It is evident that for the most aggressive circles of the United States this is less about Cuba, but rather about the fact of wanting to restore their “backyard” to the old status of 20 or 30 years ago - with the term “backyard” obviously being a creation of the Yankees. They always viewed people in this area as second-class people. However, we do know due to the development in Cuba that there are first-class people living there. Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama - all of Latin America is participating in an uprising against the U.S. Administration.

Of course, one must not underestimate the danger existing there and we indeed do not underestimate it. But of course it is an unrealistic dream of the United States to turn the states of Latin America again into banana republics. What is happening there doe require us to be vigilant.

How much the lie by the United States regarding the communist threat is all too transparent, is also finding its expression in Mexico being absolutely against a military intervention of the United States in Cuba and other countries. Furthermore, it is expressed by Mexico’s President finding support in this by Canada’s government. You were saying yourself that the roots for the revolutionary movements in Central America are the social contradictions. Indeed, if you are aware of the life in these countries, you know how justified the uprising against hegemony of the United States actually is.

You, as the Chairman of the PLO and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Palestinian Revolution, are certainly correct when you say the situation is serious but one can look towards the future with hope.

I think our meeting as well is a sign that you will have the support of all peoples in the world for your gigantic struggle.

I can only say that we do not just admire your bravery, but also the prudence with which you are conducting your struggles. This attitude does also exist with our people, who are currently implementing through a large initiative the decisions of the X Congress of our party [SED][10]. This is pertaining to the domestic as well as to the foreign policy of the GDR.

As far as the foreign policy of the GDR is concerned, I do not have to say much about it. You have participated in our X Party Congress. In order to implement what we have decided there - and in order to make also our contribution towards securing the peace - several initiatives have taken places since.

In the area of domestic policy we can build upon a dynamic development of our economy. We have concluded the year of 1981 with good successes. In light of the great initiatives of the working class, the peasant collectives, and the intelligentsia, we can firmly expect that, according to the decisions of our Party Congress, the year 1981 will yield further successes in the economic and social area.

In relation to the development in the world, the growth of our economy is enormous. Hereby we are taking into account the differences that can exist between 1 percent and 1 percent; since 1 percent of 367 billion Marks are obviously more than 1 percent of 200,000 Marks.

Last year we had a growth in national income by 5 percent. This year we are striving for a growth of 4.8 percent in context of the Five-Year-Plan, while the production of industrial goods is growing faster. The overall development will enable us to continue to realize with success our social program, especially so the residential construction program.

All that is an expression of trust by our people towards our party, towards our party and state leadership. This is a great success in light of the chauvinist development in the Federal Republic of Germany, whose leading politicians are still thinking in terms of Germany in the borders of 1937 as well as of a counter-revolutionary development in the People's Republic of Poland.

With the seizure of power by the armed forces of the people, by the Army, a turn towards the positive has occurred in the People's Republic of Poland. This national initiative by the Polish People’s Army is of extraordinary great importance. In this context a renewal of the party as  the leading force of society is talking place. The noise of imperialist circles about the development in the People's Republic of Poland just demonstrates how hard they have been hit. The socialist states counter with their solidarity against the furious clamor of the imperialists. The citizens of the German Democratic Republic have understood that it is important to make ever larger efforts towards the further strengthening of the German Democratic Republic in political, economic, and cultural terms.

If you would have the opportunity to look around a bit in the German Democratic Republic, you would be able to note that the face of the GDR is changing from day to day towards the positive, and that the dreams of our youth are becoming ever more reality.

Of course, not everything is already there, where we can imagine it to be. However, 20 years ago we also could not have imagined how beautiful the GDR would once become, especially how powerful it has developed. This is an expression of the incorruptible alliance with the Soviet Union, an expression of our strong alliance with the various parties and mass organizations within the National Front of the GDR. One can thus say that the German Democratic Republic is fulfilling its function as a solid cornerstone of peace in Europe. Such is also the supporting element for the alliance between GDR and the PLO.

I again want to express many thanks for the overview of the problems how you are viewing then, for your cause. We do want that you will see as well how things are developing in the GDR. If one does know the people still from the time before 1945 and is looking at them now, one has to state that totally new people have developed here, firmly following the Workers-and-Peasants-Power. This is a great accomplishment. After all, we are in the center of Europe.

I am thanking you again very cordially.

Yasser Arafat:

I am thanking you for your statements, which have opened us great perspectives and have reiterated the accordance in our opinions, and this means those opinions we already had before this visit and which we can now reaffirm. Those are based on our common positions and on the fact that we are standing together in a joint front.

We have understood a lot from your statements concerning the international problems and also the issues of the Middle East. I am hoping and wishing that with our close cooperation, and through our future cooperation, all our problems will be resolved in the future with greatest easiness.

We are expecting your opinion on the Joint Committee, so that we can continue to follow the situation in this region, which is very complicated and very difficult.

Erich Honecker:

Many thanks! I am proposing that we are saying farewell now and will continue our talks tomorrow morning.

In the meantime our Foreign Ministers can finalize the communique.

All questions still open at this point we can talk about tomorrow, if you do agree.


(End: 17:40 hours)


Wednesday, 10 March 1982

(Beginning: 10:35 hours)

Erich Honecker:

Dear Comrade Arafat! Dear Members of the Delegation!

I again want to welcome you most cordially to our final meeting. I have heard that the program for today has been conducted well. Now we are having the task ahead to use the time until 12:00 hours to discuss all those problems that are still left to discuss.

Comrade Arafat is completely right that our meeting at this level has received global attention. Here I have the summaries by TASS, DPA [West German News Agency], and other news agencies.


TASS does emphasize the peace policy of the socialist community and our exchange of opinions. It explains that we are agreeing on the policy of peace to be the only realistic alternative to the imperialist course of an arms race and confrontation. It is said that we expressed in the negotiations our support for the just struggle of the Palestinian people under the leadership of its sole legitimate representative, the PLO.

The West German dpa correspondence is writing: Honecker reaffirmed the support for the PLO. At his meeting with Yasser Arafat in Berlin he said the GDR does consider the guarantee of the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people as being of high importance. The GDR does support the joint action of the Arab states. The Chairman of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, has thanked the GDR for its selfless support.

The AP [Associated Press] is emphasizing in particular that Yasser Arafat had been received in East Berlin with a salute. This is followed by a report about results of the first meeting, where it is said that this visit will provide new impulses to the traditional relationship. The expansion of relations does fundamentally represent the interests of the people of the GDR and the Arab people in the struggle for national and social liberation, against imperialism, colonialism, Neo-colonialism, racism, and zionism. 21 shots of salute had been fired.

Then follows the English news agency Reuters which claims that the East German leader Erich Honecker has stated to the visiting head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Yasser Arafat that the international recognition of the PLO does constitute a step towards peace in the Middle Eat. Honecker referred to the recognition of the PLO by more than 100 countries and numerous international organizations. Arafat was accompanied by a delegation of members from the PLO Executive Committee who participated in the talks as did members of the East German politburo.

I do not have to continue reading further, but I just wanted to show that our meeting has received the global resonance commensurate with its importance. Nobody can overlook this. This is indeed testimony to the quality of our meeting.

The comrade have informed me that the draft of the communique has been agreed by both sides. If that is the case, we can perhaps agree on publishing the communique today from 19:00 hours.

Regarding the subject itself, we want to declare that we want to express again our satisfaction with the course and result of our meeting.

One question had remained open yesterday, namely the establishment of a Joint Committee GDR-PLO. We have agreed that it is making sense to agree on an internal commitment with the following text:

(Comrade Erich Honecker hands to Yasser Arafat the text in Arab language, which the latter is reading out to his delegation).

And here is the German text.

(Comrade Erich Honecker hands out the German language version of the text).

This is what we might want to discuss.

Overall I want to say: The large resonance to our meeting is apparently the result of the Western world following the developments in the Middle East with great attention. Again it becomes reaffirmed that the resolution of the Palestine question, in the vein of the just efforts of the Palestinian people and the PLO, does constitute the core for the resolution of this question.

In our opinion it is very important to take into consideration for any assessment that the efforts of the imperialist circles are guided by the desire to include Arab circles in their policy of confrontation against the socialist states. This is a new level of threat to security in this region. Comrade Arafat has explained that yesterday very appropriately.

There is no doubt: The establishment of a strategic alliance between the United States and Israel is one of the most dangerous aspects in the Middle East. You cannot overlook in this context that the NATO states are covering these efforts. This becomes also evident by the involvement of troop contingents from NATO states at the Sinai border with Israel, this is forces from France, England, Italy, and the Netherlands. There have been some bluffs from the side of Begin regarding this issue, but in fact this is part of the strategic concept between the United States and Israel. Through participation of these troops in the securing forces in Sinai, NATO is basically involved in the issues of the Middle East.

Summing it up, we want to reaffirm again our agreement to confront the imperialist machinations as Comrade Arafat has explained them yesterday with the three points: restoration of solidarity among the Arab peoples, strengthening of the Palestinian resistance, strengthening of relations in combination with efforts to include Egypt again in the circle of Arab peoples according to the conditions of the PLO and the other Arab states.

In this framework it is correct - we have talked about this - to place more emphasis on. Israel’s policy of aggression, especially pertaining to the annexation of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights et cetera, thus unmasking in this context the strategic alliance between the United States and Israel; since the alleged peaceful intentions of the United States in the Middle East are nothing else but support for Israel’s policy of aggression.

Here we are also considering it very appropriate that the PLO under the leadership of its Chairman Yasser Arafat has reacted very well with regard to Saudi-Arabia. It is apparent that peace in the Middle East can only be achieved if you create at the same time the conditions for participation of the Soviet Union in resolving the issues in the Middle East. It was  stated correctly yesterday that Israel’s increasing activities, as well as the various attacks undertaken, are supposed to create an atmosphere, which does not just camouflage Israel’s aggressive intentions but which is also aggravating at the same time the tensions in the entire world.

Today there have been reports in the press about the meeting of Comrade Brezhnev with the Finnish President. At this meeting, Comrade Brezhnev especially emphasized that, notwithstanding the aggravation of the international situation, the Soviet Union is maintaining the program of peace for the 1980s, which is revolving around such fundamental issues like the prevention of a nuclear disaster, of the overbearing arms build-up policy of the United States, and of the heating up of such conflict spots like in the Middle East and in the Caribbean.

Indeed, the developments in the Middle East and in the Caribbean are unmasking the United States, which are sending fake peace sounds around the world through various channels. It is only in the interest of the United States to keep crisis spots on fire.

I want to underline that we are fully and completely in support of the proposals by the Soviet Union to solve the Middle East question. They are in accordance with the program of the PLO. This does also concern the proposal of an international conference. We think this question will receive special importance during preparations for the summit of the non-aligned states in Baghdad. Many issues are left to be dealt with also for the diplomatic preparation of the conference in Baghdad given the context of military confrontation in the Middle East, which is unfolding among else through Israel’s aggressive position towards the PLO and the front of the [Arab] states of resistance.

Among the statements made by Yasser Arafat yesterday, it appears to us as very important to undertake efforts in such direction that there actually will be a termination of the war between Iraq and Iran; because with the continuation of this war a summit conference in Baghdad is hardly imaginable. Thus would inflict damage on the Arab cause overall, as well as in particular on the Palestinian cause. We do fully and completely agree that the fighting going on there does in reality serve foreign interests. It is neither in the interest of the Arab people nor of Iran that you mutually attack each other and cause immense destruction. Obviously all that is facilitating the penetration of influence by the United States in this region. All Arab countries must have an interest hat Israel will withdraw from the occupied Arab territories, including Jerusalem and of course also the occupied Golan Heights which are part of Syria according to international law.

I want to also state that we are in complete agreement on all fundamental issues we have discussed here.

We could reach an agreement now over what issues we still would have to talk about. From everything that has been said yesterday, we are aware of our agreement on all fundamental questions to be resolved in the international field. We are aware that our bilateral questions do consist of achieving a cooperation as effective as possible.  

In this context, it looks important to me that in the communique we want to adopt there will be the provision that the Office of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the GDR, in Berlin, will be elevated to the status of an Embassy. This will obviously generate great resonance and underline the level of our relationship.

Then we still have a suggestion, Comrade Arafat, we ask you to think about. Maybe it is appropriate that the German Democratic Republic will notify the Arab League on the elevation of the Representation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization to an Embassy. Perhaps this could have favorable impact on the primary efforts of restoring the solidarity of the Arabs.

We do agree with the additions to the communique. We have agreed with the proposal of a [Joint GDR-PLO] Committee, and now there still is the question of a notification regarding the elevation of the status of the Representation to the status of an Embassy, this is the notification of the Arab League.

With this, I have used up the time at my disposal and want to pass on to you.

Yasser Arafat:

I want to use the opportunity to again thank Comrade Honecker very cordially for his statements. I can say that we are fully supporting the proposals of Comrade Honecker concerning the resolution of the Middle East question. We are viewing them as a firm platform and solid fundament for the resolution of the problem.

Representatives from the GDR have participated in the recent meeting of the Palestinian National Council and have also observed the vote on this issue. I am thanking Comrade Honecker that he has accepted our proposal to establish a Joint Committee. We are considering this as a very important aspect of our mutual relations, especially since we are having very large trust in our friends and comrades. It has become common that we are consulting with them, and that we ask for their advice and discuss with them about all kinds of problems. Therefore the establishment of this Committee will be a great asset for us, especially at this important moment the Middle East and the entire world are currently experiencing.

With your permission, I would like to suggest a few small changes in the communique.

On page 4 it is said in the 3rd paragraph that we are protesting against Israeli policy. However, it must say that we are condemning the annexation of the Golan and also of Jerusalem. For us the issue is this term, because this is not just about a protest.

Erich Honecker:

In the German text it says that both sides expressed their condemnation with determination. This means we do agree [with you here].

Yasser Arafat:

Furthermore, it says in the 2nd paragraph: The unconditional and decisive withdrawal of Israel … and we want to add: and the establishment of their own state on their national territory. - Why are we doing this? This has become a problem already with regard to Lebanon; since already in Lebanon this is about whether Palestinians would settle there permanently. We want to affirm there [in this paragraph] the right to our national territory.

We are welcoming the proposal of the USSR to convene an international conference in order to solve the Palestinian problem and the problem of the Middle East under the guidance, supervision, and control of the United Nations. Because there are attempts to impose the American solution.

(Erich Honecker: According to the decisions of the United Nations.)

Here it says, according to the decisions of the United Nations, but we want to phrase it like that: under the guidance (under supervision, under control) of the United Nations.

(Erich Honecker: Agreed.)

Regarding the according U.N. decisions we would like to write: concerning Palestine.

(Erich Honecker: Good.)

In another line as well we would like to phrase: Both sides are condemning Israel’s decision regarding the annexation of Jerusalem, and they are of the opinion that all measures … and then without changes until the end. So this is about an addition. We should not just say that they are of the same opinion, but also that they are condemning it.

Both sides are expressing their concern about the Iranian-Iraqi war and support a political solution of the problem. I am suggesting the addition: in order to end this war.

Everything else is fine.

Erich Honecker:

Maybe we can do it like that: We do agree with your suggestions. Comrade [Oskar] Fischer and Comrade [Farouk] al-Kaddoumi can do the edits according to your remarks. They are already part of the stenographic transcript.

(Yasser Arafat: Thank you.)

The other question left is the issue of notification.

Is it appropriate to notify with the Arab League that the Representation of the PLO will be elevated to the status of an Embassy?

Yasser Arafat:

This is very useful. Also in preparation of a kind of [Arab] summit conference on the 24th of this month [in Saudi-Arabia] this will be one of the important things.

Erich Honecker:

I do also think, if we submit notification to the General Secretary of the Arab League, for whom we have very good feelings, then this will also play a role [at the meeting] in Saudi-Arabia.

Yasser Arafat:

Yes, obviously. They will notify all the Arab countries. This will be very useful.

Erich Honecker:

Mitterrand will also take note of this.

Yasser Arafat:

It already had been said at our table here yesterday. I said that the comrades of the GDR have made us the first gift in light of the dubious positions Mitterrand had adopted in Israel, maybe in a way as a reaction to him; because he has committed several mistakes. Also when he had talked about fundamental principles, he many times made basic mistakes.

I have sent a message to the Chairman of the Communist Party of France, Comrade [Georges] Marchais via this fond, since he is participating in the [French] government. I am expecting his response.

Erich Honecker:

He will certainly provide one, especially since there do exist, as far as France is concerned, some ambiguities in current international relations. It can obviously never be in accordance with the interests of France to subordinate itself to the orders of the United States. I know the history and policy of France very well. In my youth years I was in France myself. I am aware that the “grande nation” has a certain self-confidence. After it had left its colonial legacy behind, and after the colonies had decoupled themselves from France, nothing is more important for the French nation than that relations between France and the Soviet Union continue to be friendly.

In the current situation where Comrade Marchais is part of the French government with [four communist] French ministers, the French government deems it to be appropriate to support the Brussels missile decision of NATO[11]. But we are not seeing just this. It [French government] also views it as appropriate to pay a friendship visit to the representative of the United States in the Middle East, this is Israel; and in a situation where Israel wants to prevent a resolution of the Middle East problem.

On the other side one must not overlook that after the elections in France the French government is going through a certain development in its policy. It will realize that it cannot solve an issue in the interest of France with an adventurist policy that is currently pushed by the Reagan Administration together with Israel.

We are also eager to expand the friendly relations with France. However, this is occurring according to the saying of a great Frenchman who once said[12]: “I love Germany so much that I am happy that there are two Germanys”.


This is very important, since the status quo is of course the foundation for the balance of forces in the world. This has also been enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act [of the CSCE]. Obviously it is clear that the interests of France are not with lying with those who follow revisionist aspirations.

Today there was a note in the press under the headline “Mitterrand wants to meet Arafat”. I do not know whether you have already seen this note. I have already read it this morning.

Yasser Arafat:

No, I have not yet read this note. - I still want to add something.

I again want to cordially thank Comrade Honecker for the meeting that was held today between the chief editors of our two newspapers. This meeting by the chief editors of our two central press organs has been acknowledged accordingly. It is another symbol for our cooperation in the area of information and propaganda.

I again want to thank Comrade Honecker cordially for the sincere feelings of friendship we have experienced here during our visit.

Erich Honecker:

I think this is reciprocal. We are fellows in the fight for common goals. We Germans have always looked to those who advocate the just cause of the people. This is a pattern throughout our entire history.

We are still remembering fondly the moment when Comrade Arafat participated for the first time here in Berlin in the World Youth Festival[13] in the stadium.

Yasser Arafat:

It was a high honor for me that I was allowed to participate as a guest at this Youth Festival. This was the first global festival where the Palestinian Revolution was acting for the first tome in an official capacity. Simultaneously this also was the first time when the GDR expressed its great solidarity support, the support of its leadership, its people, and its party, for the Palestinian Revolution.

Erich Honecker:

Back then this was a big sensation. It was noticed everywhere. With that I just want to emphasize the continuity in development of our relations of solidarity which is moving to an ever higher level.

Yasser Arafat

As far as the position of France is concerned: There is no doubt that France will be subjected to some economic problems. For instance, in Kuwait immediately the contract for the purchase of Airbus, this is this wide-body aircraft, was canceled. Furthermore, also the visit of [French Foreign Minister Claude] Cheysson in Kuwait got on hold and canceled. At the next summit conference, which will take place in Tunis, this topic will be on the agenda, especially the issue of the sale of a nuclear reactor to Israel. This nuclear reactor is supposed to be located near the Dead Sea, this means an area that is geographically disputed.

(Erich Honecker: This is obvious.)

In addition there is the question of import and export of arms. Israel wants arms and again arms. This is a fundamental question.

Erich Honecker:

As far as the arms question is concerned: We can only deliver that what we are producing ourselves. Unfortunately we are not having any major production here. This was talked about with your military delegation.

Yasser Arafat:

We want to thank you for this supportive position. Our military delegation has filed an extensive report here. The members of this delegation have returned with the impression of fraternity, in particular because the military of the GDR had talked with them extensively and very precisely about our own situation. We as well did explain from our side our military situation in detail. This month another delegation will come to continue these talks. 

Erich Honecker:

Yesterday I have talked with Comrade [Heinz] Hoffmann. There exists a production here with us in the area of armor-piercing weapons. In the fight against the Israeli armed forces obviously armor-piercing weapons are in the forefront. These arms are certainly capable to break through Israeli tanks. I once had a look at how this works. I had never thought that these things are piercing through such thick tanks. These are special projectiles. Then there are also other questions, like questions of measuring distances with laser. But we have already talked about all that. There are anyways today already in the Western press so many reports about our military agreements. I am sorry that we are not able to help as much as they are writing up there.


Yasser Arafat:

There is one more point I would like to tell Comrade Honecker: the maneuvers of the Israeli forces in the coastal area of Lebanon. In this coastal segment chemical weapons have been used which come from the FRG. Biological weapons were also applied. We will let you know the exact names.

It was noted that during these Israeli military actions two Irish soldiers were hit. These two soldiers were part of the U.N. peacekeeping force. The company producing these weapons is located in Karlsruhe. We also expect that in future fights these chemical weapons will be used. The bad thing here is that last week Falange [Christian militias] forces used the same chemical agents in Beirut. Four people were delivered to hospitals with the same symptoms, this is with the same injuries suffered by the two Irish soldiers.

Erich Honecker:

Maybe it would be useful to publish something about this, either by the PLO or by other sources as you deem appropriate. One should publish something pertaining to against whom these weapons were used, and also that they are coming from the FRG. We will use this as a reason to conduct a broad campaign and thus also mobilize the West German public against such a production, since we are in favor of banning chemical and biological weapons. We deem it useful to provide our military with documents so they can help with defense against chemical weapons. The army as well as our civil defense have protective gear against chemical weapons. There are experts there.

Yasser Arafat:

There is another issue we want to talk about. It does concern the actions of the Pope in Poland.

It is known that the Vatican is undertaking actions. We have talked with the leadership of the Orthodox Church. There are two directions: on the hand the Coptic Church leadership and on the other hand the leadership of the Orthodox Church. This is relevant especially after the visit [of the Pope] to Greece. The Patriarch of Jerusalem is orthodox. He is the only one with the right to be Patriarch of Jerusalem. The others who are in Jerusalem are metropolitan bishops. This is why we must counter the Pope. We have used the Jerusalem problem as a counter action to his attack and his intervention in Poland. I think we should further review this.

As you know, in Afghanistan one has attempted to mobilize the Islamic movement with regard to the Afghanistan problem, especially against the Soviet Union. We then did immediately raise the counter problem, namely the problem of Jerusalem. At once the conference turned around by 180 degrees. For the first time Saudi-Arabia has participated in such a conference and signed up on a resolution against the United States. After the conference, the correspondents, including the Western journalists, came us and they did say: We have actually come to a conference supposed to be directed against the Soviet Union. - We told them: You must know that we have many cards we can play, among them is the Jerusalem card. The first direction of Muslim prayer is Jerusalem. Regarding the question of the Pope: the center of the churches is not located in Poland but originally in Jerusalem.

(Erich Honecker: This is true!)

Erich Honecker:

It is like that. The Pope is already facing great contradictions in the Vatican itself, because it is said about him that he is more a Pope for Poland than a Pope for the Catholic Church. This the problem. From this angle this is absolutely justified. The Jerusalem problem is very important for the Arab states and for the Islams[14] overall.

Israel has no claim [to Jerusalem] at all. Thus it must be prevented that the annexation by Israel will be legalized.

This way the NATO states are also coming into a very difficult position; since actually the Western states are less interested in the Arabs but rather in the oil.

(Yasser Arafat: Yes, this is true).

This is what this is about. We have said this already some years ago.

Yasser Arafat:

The problem is the following: It is a fact that we as Palestinians have a great potential of scientific forces. We are basically standing next to each oil drilling rig. This is annoying them [the Arabs] obviously. This is why they have made some decisions to remove our scientific experts from these oil drilling rigs, since they are aware of the statistics and know exactly how they look like. This why they are also aware of their importance.

I once met an American Senator. He wanted to smoke but he did not have a lighter. I took matches out of my pocket and gave them to him. Then he said to me: But you do not smoke at all. Why then do you have matches with you? I told him: I will make this clear to you if you also make this clear to your [U.S.] Congress. We in the Middle East do not need matches at all. We are needing matches only for lighting up our interests, namely the oil.

Erich Honecker:

Yes, this is how it is. There is an old resolution of the United Nations saying that the resources belong to the people in which country they are located. This is the decisive question. This is also the main problem for creating a new economic world order, namely that the resources benefit the peoples in whose countries they are located - and not the multinational corporations that are making large profits with them. This is also the interest of the United States in the Gulf and regarding the Gulf states.

Because of your remarks, Comrade Arafat, I think that the song back then sung at the World Youth Festival is applicable from the perspective of the Palestinians also to the Arab region: “We are everywhere on earth!”


(Yasser Arafat: This is true. This is the most dangerous weapon we are possessing.)

This is very important.

Yasser Arafat:

I again want to thank cordially Comrade Honecker for all the attention we have received here and for the opportunity to talk about the issues we have discussed over the last 24 hours. This is a new great impulse for the just cause of our people. This is a continuation of the consequent policy and also the principled internationalist policy chaired in the German Democratic Republic by Comrade Erich Honecker.

We have nothing what we can offer. But we want to bring you one thing: the friendship, the affection, and the fact that we are standing together in one front.

Erich Honecker:

I want to thank Comrade Arafat and the members of the PLO delegation very cordially for the course of our meeting here in Berlin. Indeed it is true that this meeting is leading towards a further deepening of our relations.

At the same time I want to ask you, Comrade Arafat, and the members of your delegation to submit our best wishes to your fellow fighters, and especially our high regard for the struggle of the brave Palestinian people against the Israeli aggression. In the end this will lead to thwart the Zionist plan, which does consist in depriving the Palestinians of their right to their own state under the leadership of the PLO and its Chairman, Comrade Yasser Arafat. If our meeting has contributed towards supporting your courageous struggle rich in sacrifices, then this can only satisfy us; since we are facing a common enemy. It is always good during such an hard struggle to be aware of having someone on his side who is helping to support the future. This is why we are supporting each other mutually. This is in accordance with the interests of our peoples and has great importance far beyond the borders of our countries.

I am firmly convinced that the day is not far where also the Palestine problem will be solved.

(Yasser Arafat: With absolute certainty!)

Again many cordial thanks!

(End: 12:00 hours)


[1] Translator’s note: in fact, this translation has incorporated all handwritten corrections from this typed document. Therefore this translation can be considered the corrected transcript version.

[2] Translator’s note: the strait between Yemen and Eritrea/Djibouti connecting the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden.

[3] Translator’s note: the above-mentioned meeting Arafat attended right before coming to this talk with Honecker.

[4] Translator’s note: Unclear who is meant by this. The document has a question mark behind the (probably phonetic) name.

[5] Translator’s note: Unclear what place is meant here, the document has a question mark behind the (probably phonetic) name.

[6] Translator’s note: Original term in document, transcription might be flawed. ‘Machist’ means ‘macho’ in German.

[7] Translator’s note: Gulf Cooperation Council, founded on 25 May 1981 by Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi-Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.

[8] Translator’s note: Summit Meeting between U.S. President Jimmy Carter and CPSU General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev in Vienna between 15 and 18 June 1979 to sign the SALT II strategic missile limitation agreement.

[9] Translator’s note: “American, go home! Split for Peace your Atom!” (reference to nuclear fission for building atom bombs).

[10] Translator’s note: Held in Berlin 11 to 16 April 1981.

[11] Translator’s note: NATO double-track decision of 12 December 1979 regarding intermediate range missile deployment in case of failing limitation negotiations with the Soviet Union.

[12] Translator’s note: French writer François Mauriac (1885-1970).

[13] Translator’s note: Held in (East) Berlin 28 July to 5 August 1973.

[14] Translator’s note: Honecker probably meant ‘Muslims’ here.

The conversation is mainly concerned with the situation in the Middle East, but there are also some remarks about Poland, Afghanistan, and French-Israeli relations. Honecker emphasizes that only the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state can solve the Middle East conflict. He underlines the continuing support of the GDR for the PLO, for example, through military aid and the opening of an official PLO embassy in Berlin. Arafat points to the West German support for Israel and asks for further military aid.

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SAPMO-BA, J IV 2/201/1416. Translated by Bernd Schaefer.


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Memorandum of Conversation


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The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars