PRESS CONFERENCE REGARDING SOMALIA
We appreciate this opportunity to meet with you representatives of the Press and explain to you certain matters dealing with relations between Ethiopia and the Republic of Somalia which have not up to now received the attention which they merit.
You are all familiar with the details of the armed aggression which the military forces of the Republic of Somalia have carried out against Ethiopia. You may not, however, be as familiar with the background against which this aggression must be viewed.
First of all, we must accept as an irrefutable fact that the Republic of Somalia is dedicated to a policy of territorial aggrandizement at the expense of her neighbours, and that she appears prepared to pursue this policy by all available means. This policy is written into Somalia's Constitution. Somalia's claims to Ethiopian territory have been repeated by her leaders not once but many times.
By contrast, Ethiopia's policy with respect to Somalia has been that the boundary established between the two countries should be respected by both. Ethiopia has never menaced or threatened Somalia, and we are asserting no territorial claims of any sort against her.
In the family of nations there are countries with populations even smaller than that of the Republic of Somalia which nonetheless live in peace and in harmony with their neighbours. However, the Somalia leaders, inspired by their expansionist policy, have resorted to force and false propaganda, have attacked Ethiopia, and have shed innocent blood in pursuit of their objectives. We have explained in the past the consequences and the dangers inherent in this policy, and We shall continue to do so. We have expressed Our sorrow that this policy continues, and We hope that the people of the Republic of Somalia have recognized the truth of what We have said.
The Somalia leaders have chosen to execute their expansionist policy in a variety of ways, ranging from falsehood to force. The Somalia Government has sent armed bands into the territories of Ethiopia and Kenya, where they attack, rob, loot and then flee into the shelter of the Republic of Somalia. At the same time, the Government of Somalia has carried on an intensive and malicious press and radio campaign against Ethiopia which is unparalleled in this day and age in its violence. The Ethiopian people and leaders have been insulted in the most vituperative and slanderous terms. Somalia's radio has called for revolution in Ethiopia and has incited subversion and sabotage. In all that she has done, Somalia has violated almost daily for the last three and one-half years the most sacred principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity.
By contrast, Ethiopia has refrained from replying in kind and has limited herself to defending her territory against the Somalia Government to end its propaganda against Our nation because We know that such a campaign is calculated permanently to poison relations between the people of Ethiopia and Somalia, and particularly those of ex-British Somaliland who enter Ethiopia to graze here and who also have close commercial relations with Our country.
Two weeks ago Somalia launched a direct armed attack against Ethiopia’s security forces along the frontier and earlier reports that the Somalia Government has maintained training centres in Somalia for preparing armed bandits to violate and commit acts of violence and subversion in Ethiopia were conclusively confirmed. Ethiopia promptly invoked the Charter of African Unity and requested an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers of the O.A.U. Somalia, however, chose not to refer this matter to her African brothers. Instead, in an attempt to involve non-African nations in a dispute which should, initially at least, be considered by Africans, she appealed to the Security Council of the United Nations. In accordance with Ethiopia's request, and, belatedly, Somalia’s, the Council of Ministers met at Dares-Salaam. Ethiopia has observed the Resolutions adopted there but, in direct violation of these Resolutions, Somalia has ceased neither her armed attacks nor her propaganda campaign and has continued her aggression against Our nation.
In recent days, Somalia has embarked upon a new course. First, she alleged that American and Israeli aircraft were involved in hostilities on Ethiopia's side, then that British troops had joined Ethiopian forces in action against Somalia. These charges are, of course, unfounded and are complete fabrications, as is virtualy everything emanating from Mogadiscio these days. Ethiopia is self-reliant. We need no non-African assistance to defend our soil. Ethiopia has strained every energy to ensure that Africans themselves refrain from and avoid the shedding of African blood, and the energies of all of us should be enlisted in this effort. Only a few days ago, the Prime Minister of Somalia threatened to unleash 150,000 armed nomads from the Republic against Ethiopia. To this, let Us only reply that history bears witness that, in less time than it would take to recount, were it necessary to do so, Ethiopia could have under arms one soldier for every member of Somalia’s entire population. The Prime Minister's reckless statement reflects only on those who speak in this fashion and any action such as that threatened by the Somalia leaders would have the most far-reaching consequences. Ethiopia is not boastful, but her history testifies to the courage and bravery of which she disposes in defending her territory and her independence. She has been preserved with the help of the Almighty, Who is ever at her side.
Shall Defend Soil
Thus far, Ethiopia has restrained herself. We shall continue to do so, but we shall defend our soil and our territorial integrity with all the force at our disposal. But the permanent solution to this problem lies only in Somalia's final renunciation of the policy of territorial aggrandizement which she has unswervingly followed during the last three and one-half years and which has led to the sorry state of relations between our two nations today.
One final point must be clear. There is no border conflict between Ethiopia and Somalia. The border is defined in the Treaties of 1897 and 1908, which constitute the very basis upon which Somalia was granted her independence by the United Nations. The frontier in the North, defined in the Treaty of 1897 between Ethiopia and Great Britain, has been demarcated on the ground for over thirty years. The boundary in the South, defined in the Treaty of 1908 with Italy, has not been so demarcated, but half of the countries of the world today live in peace with their neighbours while their common frontiers remain undemarcated. When the United Nations placed the former Italian colony of Somaliland under trusteeship in 1950, a Provisional Administrative Line was established by the United Nations and, at Ethiopia's insistence, this Line was defined with precision. When Somalia became independent in 1960, this same Line determined the limits of the new Republic.
It is clear that the aggression which Somalia has committed against Ethiopia is not an isolated incident or an act of recklessness unrelated to some broader pattern. It is part and parcel of the expansionist policy which Somalia has consistenly adhered to since July 1, 1960. It is equally clear that this policy is unacceptable to Ethiopia. We seek only peace. We still retain the hope that the people of Somalia who have, on various occasions, expressed their deep concern over the policies detrimental to Somalia and her people, may yet repudiate the adventure upon which their leaders have embarked in order that bloodshed may end and tranquility may once again be restored to the Horn of Africa. How far better it would be were the money expended in the pursuit of columny and aggression used, instead, for the benefit and welfare of the people of Somalia. How far wiser it would be were Somalia's leaders working in a spirit of harmony and friendship, for the improvement of relations between our two countries.
We have already explained Our position to the African leaders who have tried to reconcile our differences with Somalia and who have sent messages and special envoys to Us. For their concern, and for the interest and sympathy which they and their people have manifested, We express Our thanks. We have told them that we covet no one's territory, but that neither will we yield what is ours. We have stated our wish to live in peace and harmony with our neighbours. Seeking nothing which is theirs, we also do not seek their enmity.
Feb. 24, 1964.
Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie – page 671 –