US embassy cable - 88TUNIS12749

(U) SPR 0002, TUNISIA'S RELATIONS WITH COMMUNIST COUNTRIES

Identifier: 88TUNIS12749
Wikileaks: View 88TUNIS12749 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tunis
Created: 1988-12-14 14:51:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: KSPR AINF KPRP PINR TS
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 141451Z DEC 88
FM AMEMBASSY TUNIS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9063
AMEMBASSY BEIJING
AMEMBASSY EMBBERLIN
AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST
AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST
AMEMBASSY CAIRO
USINT HAVANA
AMEMBASSY PARIS
AMEMBASSY PRAGUE
AMEMBASSY RABAT
AMEMBASSY ROME
AMEMBASSY VALLETTA
AMEMBASSY WARSAW
USCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 TUNIS 12749 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  KSPR, AINF, KPRP, PINR, TS 
SUBJECT:  (U) SPR 0002, TUNISIA'S RELATIONS WITH 
COMMUNIST COUNTRIES 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  ALMOST ALL COMMUNIST COUNTRIES 
MAINTAIN AN ACTIVE DIPLOMATIC PRESENCE IN TUNISIA. 
THE SOVIET AND CHINESE REPRESENTATIONS ARE, 
CHARACTERISTICALLY, THE LARGEST.  OVERALL, TUNISIA'S 
RELATIONS WITH THESE COUNTRIES ARE GOOD BUT NOT 
OVERLY WARM.  1988, TUNISIAN PRESIDENT ZINE EL 
ABIDINE BEN ALI'S FIRST FULL YEAR IN OFFICE, MARKED 
THE CONTINUANCE OF A PERCEPTIBLE WARMING TREND IN 
TUNISIAN-COMMUNIST BLOC RELATIONS.  THE ROOT CAUSE OF 
THIS TREND PROBABLY LIES IN BEN ALI'S DESIRE TO 
PRESENT HIMSELF TO HIS MAGHREB NEIGHBORS 
(PARTICULARLY LIBYA) AS A MODERATE, NON-ALIGNED ARAB 
CHIEF OF STATE.  WHILE TUNISIA RETAINS HER 
TRADITIONAL STRONG TIES TO THE U.S., FRANCE, ITALY 
AND OTHER WESTERN POWERS, THE BEN ALI ADMINISTRATION 
HAS MADE A CONSCIOUS EFFORT TO PLAY DOWN THE 
TUNISIAN-WESTERN RELATIONSHIP TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. 
THIS NOTED, IMPROVED RELATIONS WITH COMMUNIST 
COUNTRIES HAVE BEEN MORE COSMETIC THAN SUBSTANTIVE IN 
NATURE.  THIS IS PROBABLY DUE TO THE FACT THAT 
COMMUNIST BLOC COUNTRIES ARE NOT YET PREPARED TO 
OFFER BEN ALI THE KIND OF FINANCIAL, ECONOMIC AND 
MILITARY ASSISTANCE THAT HE DESIRES.  END SUMMARY. 
 
PART I.  OFFICIAL COMMUNIST REPRESENTATION: 
 
2.  (C) DURING THE CALENDAR YEAR, EMBASSY NOTED NO 
SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN COMMUNIST EMBASSY STAFFING OR 
ACCREDITATION LEVELS APART FROM THE NOVEMBER 
ACCREDITATION OF AN EAST GERMAN MILITARY ATTACHE 
(RESIDENT IN ALGIERS, SEE MILITARY RELATIONS BELOW). 
THERE WERE NO COMMUNIST EMBASSY EXPULSIONS DURING THE 
REPORTING PERIOD.  FOLLOWING ARE 1988 ESTIMATES FOR 
SOVIET EMBASSY AND OTHER PERSONNEL ASSIGNED TO 
TUNISIA (SPOUSES, CHILDREN NOT INCLUDED): 
--ACCREDITED DIPLOMATS:                          25 
--EMBASSY, CONSULAR, AND CULTURAL CENTER STAFF:  27 
--TRADE STAFF:                                   16 
--GKES (SOON TO BE INCORPORATED WITH TRADE 
            MISSION):                             9 
--AEROFLOT:                                       3 
--JOURNALISTS:                                    3 
--SOVIET EMBASSY GRADE SCHOOL EMPLOYEES:          4 
--TOTAL:                                         87 
(NOTE:  THE REDUCTION FROM LAST YEAR'S ESTIMATED 
TOTAL OF 120 IS PROBABLY DUE TO A REDUCTION IN STAFF 
VICE OFFICIAL PERSONNEL.  IN ADDITION TO THE 
OFFICIALS LISTED ABOVE, ACCORDING TO A SOVIET 
DIPLOMAT, THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY 300 SOVIET 
COOPERANTS IN TUNISIA.) 
 
3.  (C)  FOLLOWING ARE 1988 ESTIMATES FOR NON-SOVIET 
COMMUNIST REPRESENTATION IN TUNISIA (TOTAL PRESENCE 
FIGURES UNAVAILABLE UNLESS OTHERWISE INDICATED): 
--BULGARIA:  7 DIPLOMATS (D), 9 STAFF/TRADE/OTHER (S) 
--CZECHOSLOVAKIA:  7 D, 9 S 
--EAST GERMANY:  6 D (WITH MILATT IN ALGIERS), 5 S 
--HUNGARY:  4 D, 4 S 
--POLAND:  6 D, 3 S 
--ROMANIA:  3 D, 1 S 
--CUBA:  3 D 
--CHINA:  21 D (TOTAL S UNKNOWN BUT ESTIMATED AT 30) 
--ALBANIA:  NON-RESIDENT AMBASSADOR (NRA) 
--NORTH KOREA:  3 D 
--VIETNAM:  NRA 
--YUGOSLAVIA:  3 D, 4 S 
 
PART II.  LOCAL COMMUNIST PARTY MEMBERSHIP: 
 
4.  (C) THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF TUNISIA (PCT) WAS 
LEGALIZED IN JULY 1981 AND HAS APPROXIMATELY 400-500 
ACTIVE MEMBERS AND APPROXIMATELY 2000-3000 
SYMPATHIZERS.  IN 1988, PCT ACTIVITY ON TUNISIAN 
CAMPUSES WAS MINIMAL DUE TO GROWING ISLAMIC 
FUNDAMENTALIST, ARAB NATIONALIST, AND RIVAL LEFTIST 
ACTIVITIES.  THE LEFTIST STUDENTS, WHO STILL VIEW THE 
PCT AS TOO MODERATE, BELONG TO A SMALL GROUP OF 
POORLY ORGANIZED STUDENT COMMUNIST/LEFTIST MOVEMENTS 
THAT ARE LOOSELY UNITED UNDER THE UMBRELLA OF THE 
RECOGNIZED GENERAL UNION OF TUNISIAN STUDENTS (UGET) 
LED BY SELF-AVOWED MARXIST SAMIR LABIDI.  DURING THIS 
REPORTING PERIOD, THE "HONEYMOON" BETWEEN THE BEN ALI 
ADMINISTRATION AND PCT LEADER MOHAMMED HARMEL 
CONTINUED.  HARMEL WAS ONE OF SEVERAL LEGAL 
OPPOSITION LEADERS WHO SIGNED THE 7 NOVEMBER 1988 
"NATIONAL PACT" (A SYMBOLIC DOCUMENT PLEDGING 
COOPERATION AND FAIR PLAY BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT, THE 
RULING PARTY, THE UNIONS, AND VARIOUS OPPOSITION 
PARTIES).  HARMEL SPEAKS RUSSIAN AND MAINTAINS GOOD 
CONTACTS WITH THE SOVIET AND OTHER EAST BLOC 
EMBASSIES AND THE PCT IS RECOGNIZED BY THE CPSU AS A 
LEGITIMATE COMMUNIST PARTY.  IT IS DOUBTFUL THAT THE 
PCT WILL BECOME AN APPRECIABLE POLITICAL FORCE IN THE 
NEAR FUTURE.  BEN ALI HAS MANAGED TO TAME THE PCT TO 
POINT OF ALMOST TOTAL CONCILIATION, AND THE PCT'S 
POSSIBLE STUDENT BASE OF SUPPORT APPEARS TO HOLD 
DISDAIN FOR THIS MODERATE COMMUNIST PARTY.  IN 
ADDITION, THE PCT REMAINS AT ODDS WITH THE BROAD 
POPULAR ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALIST SECTOR OF TUNISIAN 
SOCIETY.  IN DECEMBER, THE PCT ATTEMPTED TO 
CAPITALIZE ON THE POPULARITY OF THE PALESTINIAN CAUSE 
BY STAGING THREE DAYS OF FESTIVITIES IN SUPPORT OF 
THE INTIFADAH UPRISINGS. 
 
5.  (S) DURING THIS REPORTING PERIOD, BEN ALI'S 
DECISION TO LEGALIZE THE TRADITIONAL UGET STUDENT 
UNION HAS TAKEN THE WIND FROM THE SAILS OF THE MORE 
RADICAL LEFTIST STUDENT GROUPS.  RADICAL LEFTIST 
INFLUENCE CONTINUED TO FLOURISH IN THE FORM OF 
ORGANIZED OPPOSITION TO THE GOT-CONTROLLED GENERAL 
UNION OF TUNISIAN WORKERS (UGTT), HOWEVER, BEN ALI'S 
ONGOING REFORM PROGRAM APPEARS TO BE ATTRACTING THE 
GREATER MAJORITY OF TUNISIAN WORKERS AWAY FROM THE 
RADICALS.  THERE IS IN FACT AN UNRECOGNIZED COMMUNIST 
WORKER'S PARTY OF TUNISIA (POCT) WHOSE MEMBERSHIP AND 
INFLUENCE IN THE TUNISIAN UNIONS AND ON CAMPUS 
REMAINS UNKNOWN.  ALTHOUGH COMMUNIST INFLUENCE COULD 
GROW WITHIN THE INCREASINGLY LIBERAL TUNISIAN 
POLITICAL CLIMATE, IT IS DOUBTFUL THAT BEN ALI WOULD 
ALLOW THE COMMUNIST/LEFTIST MOVEMENTS TO GO VERY FAR 
BEYOND ACTING AS DE FACTO COUNTERWEIGHTS TO THE 
ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALIST GROUPS.  IN SHORT, TUNISIAN 
COMMUNISM, WITH THE ESSENTIALLY WEAK PCT AS ITS 
CENTERPIECE, DOES NOT APPEAR TO HAVE A VERY PROMISING 
FUTURE. 
 
PART III.  CULTURAL RELATIONS, EDUCATION EXCHANGE: 
 
6.  (LOU) THE SOVIET UNION PROMOTES SOVIET CULTURE IN 
TUNISIA.  ITS CULTURAL CENTER OFFERS A TUITION FREE 
RUSSIAN LANGUAGE PROGRAM AND ALSO SPONSORS FILMS, ART 
AND PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITS, AND MUSICAL PERFORMANCES. 
THERE IS A TUNISIAN-SOVIET FRIENDSHIP ASSOCIATION 
WHICH SPONSORS SUCH ACTIVITIES AS LECTURES BY 
VISITING SOVIET ACADEMICS.  HE EAST EUROPEAN 
COUNTRIES ALSO SPONSOR CULTURAL EVENTS (MID JANUARY 
1988 GAVE US A CZECHOSLOVAK CULTURAL WEEK ALONG WITH 
THE CONCURRENT VISIT OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK CULTURAL 
MINISTER TO TUNIS).  CUBAN SPONSORSHIP OF SUCH EVENTS 
IS USUALLY LIMITED TO ACTIVITIES CO-SPONSORED BY 
OTHER LATIN COUNTRIES REPRESENTED IN TUNISIA. 
CHINESE CULTURAL INFLUENCE IS ALSO PRESENT BUT 
LIMITED AS CHINA TENDS TO CENTER ITS BILATERAL 
RELATIONS WITH TUNISIA ON TRADE, DEVELOPMENT AND 
COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES.  TASS AND THE NEW CHINA NEWS 
AGENCY ARE BOTH REPRESENTED IN TUNIS.  IN ADDITION, 
SEVERAL COMMUNIST JOURNALS, INCLUDING THE SOVIET 
FRENCH LANGUAGE VERSION OF "MOSCOW NEWS" ARE 
AVAILABLE AT DOWNTOWN TUNIS NEWSSTANDS.  SOME LOCAL 
VIDEO CLUBS ALSO CARRY SOVIET FILMS FOR VIDEOCASSETTE 
RENTAL. 
 
7.  (C) THE NUMBER OF TUNISIAN STUDENTS STUDYING IN 
COMMUNIST COUNTRIES REMAINED ESSENTIALLY THE SAME IN 
1988.  THERE ARE NO INDICATIONS THAT COMMUNIST 
EDUCATED PERSONNEL ARE ACCEDING TO POSITIONS OF 
AUTHORITY IN THE GOVERNMENT OR THE RULING PARTY. 
REGARDING THE PRC, ACCORDING TO THE ESTIMATE OF ONE 
CHINESE DIPLOMAT, THE MAJORITY OF TUNISIANS IN CHINA 
ARE LANGUAGE STUDENTS.  OVERALL, THE MAJORITY OF 
TUNISIAN STUDENTS WHO STUDY ABROAD DO SO IN WESTERN 
COUNTRIES.  THIS IS DUE BOTH TO THE GENERAL 
PERCEPTION THAT THE QUALITY OF A WESTERN EDUCATION 
CANNOT BE MATCHED ELSEWHERE, AND A CERTAIN TUNISIAN 
CULTURAL AFFINITY TOWARDS THE WEST.  NO NEW MAJOR 
SCIENTIFIC OR CULTURAL AGREEMENTS WITH COMMUNIST 
COUNTRIES WERE SIGNED IN 1988.  ACCORDING TO A SOVIET 
OFFICIAL WITH ALLEGED CONSULAR DUTIES, THE SOVIET 
GOVERNMENT GRANTS APPROXIMATELY 60 FOUR YEAR 
UNIVERSITY SCHOLARSHIPS A YEAR AND CLAIMS THAT, AT 
ANY GIVEN TIME, THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY 400 TUNISIAN 
STUDENTS IN THE USSR.  A BULGARIAN OFFICIAL SAID THAT 
HIS GOVERNMENT GRANTED SEVEN SCHOLARSHIPS A YEAR AND 
THAT THE TOTAL OF TUNISIAN STUDENTS IN HIS COUNTRY 
RARELY EXCEEDED FIFTY (INCLUDING THOSE WHO FINANCE 
THEIR OWN STUDIES).  A CZECHOSLOVAK OFFICIAL SAID 
THAT THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS STUDYING IN HIS COUNTRY 
HAS REMAINED CONSTANT SINCE THE CHANGE OF 
ADMINISTRATIONS IN TUNISIA. 
 
PART IV.  DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR RELATIONS:  NO 
SIGNIFICANT CHANGE OTHER THAN THE ACCREDITATION OF 
SOME MILITARY ATTACHES (SEE MILITARY RELATIONS). 
 
PART VI.  APPRAISAL OF POLITICAL/ECONOMIC/MILITARY 
RELATIONS: 
 
8.  POLITICAL: 
 
A.  (S) PRIOR TO BEN ALI'S LATE 1987 ASSUMPTION OF 
POWER, TUNISIA HAD MAINTAINED CORRECT BUT COOL 
DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH MOST COMMUNIST COUNTRIES 
FOR SEVERAL YEARS.  FORMER PRESIDENT HABIB BOURGUIBA 
WAS A STAUNCH ANTI-COMMUNIST AND NOT AVERSE TO MAKING 
HIS PRO-WESTERN VIEWS KNOWN.  DURING THIS PERIOD, IT 
IS PROBABLE THAT THE MAJORITY OF COMMUNIST EMBASSIES 
IN TUNISIA WERE THERE SIMPLY TO CARRY ON RELATIONS 
WITH THE PLO AND MAINTAIN CONTACT WITH THE ARAB 
LEAGUE (BOTH OF WHICH ARE HEADQUARTERED IN TUNIS) 
RATHER THAN TO FOCUS ON BILATERAL RELATIONS WITH 
TUNISIA.  SINCE THE 1987 CHANGE AND ON INTO 1988, 
THERE HAS BEEN A PERCEPTIBLE WARMING TREND IN 
RELATIONS WITH THE SOVIET UNION AND OTHER BLOC 
COUNTRIES THAT HAS MANIFESTED ITSELF WITH INCREASED 
CULTURAL ACTIVITIES AND INCREASED COVERAGE OF SOVIET 
INTERNAL EVENTS IN THE TUNISIAN MEDIA.  TUNISIA'S 
TRADITIONAL REASON FOR MAINTAINING CORRECT RELATIONS 
WITH THE SOVIETS STEMMED FROM THE GOT BELIEF THAT THE 
SOVIET UNION HAD A RESTRAINING INFLUENCE OVER LIBYA 
(WITH WHOM THE GOT REESTABLISHED DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS 
IN DECEMBER OF 1987).  NOW THAT THE TUNISIAN-LIBYAN 
RAPPROCHEMENT HAS CONTINUED FOR ALMOST A FULL YEAR, 
TUNISIA MAY NOT NEED THIS PERCEIVED "RESTRAINING 
INFLUENCE" OVER QADHAFI.  GIVEN THE FACT THAT THE 
COMMUNIST COUNTRIES HAVE NEITHER THE RESOURCES NOR 
THE DESIRE TO CONTRIBUTE GREAT AMOUNTS OF FOREIGN AID 
TO TUNISIA, THE WARMING TREND MAY RETAIN ITS PRESENT 
COSMETIC NATURE AND NOT GO MUCH FURTHER.  THE GOT 
WILL CONTINUE TO MARKET PHOSPHATES, FERTILIZERS, AND 
OLIVE OIL TO THE SOVIET BLOC.  THIS SAID, PAST 
EXPERIENCE HAS SHOWN THAT THESE COUNTRIES TEND TO 
DRIVE HARD BARGAINS WITH TUNISIA.  BEN ALI VERY 
OBVIOUSLY CONTINUES TO PLACE A GREATER EMPHASIS ON 
REGIONAL MAGHREB ISSUES THAN ON EAST-WEST AFFAIRS. 
 
B.  (S) AFTER THE SOVIET UNION, CHINA HAS THE LARGEST 
COMMUNIST REPRESENTATION IN TUNISIA.  OVERALL, 
SINO-TUNISIAN BILATERAL RELATIONS ARE FOCUSED ON 
COMMERCIAL AND DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES AND LESS ON 
POLITICS PER SE.  ONE CHINESE OFFICIAL VIEWED THE 
POLITICAL RELATIONSHIP BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER THE 
CHANGE IN GOVERNMENT AS CORDIAL BUT COOL.  DESPITE 
THE LARGE IN COUNTRY PRC REPRESENTATION, THERE ARE 
ONLY A HANDFUL OF TUNISIAN DIPLOMATS IN CHINA.  AS 
WITH MANY EMBASSIES IN TUNIS, THE PRINCIPLE REASON 
FOR THE CHINESE EMBASSY PRESENCE MAY WELL BE THE 
PRESENCE OF THE PLO.  A CHINESE ASSISTANT FOREIGN 
MINISTER VISITED TUNIS IN LATE 1988, HOWEVER ALL 
INDICATIONS ARE THAT HE MET WITH TUNISIAN OFFICIALS 
TO CONVEY CHINESE VIEWS ON MAJOR WORLD EVENTS AND NOT 
TO DISCUSS SUBSTANTIVE BILATERAL ISSUES. 
 
C.  (C) ON THE EASTERN EUROPEAN SIDE, POLITICAL 
RELATIONS APPEAR TO BE GOOD BUT NON-SUBSTANTIVE.  IN 
MID SUMMER, A MEMBER OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK COMMUNIST 
PARTY PRESIDIUM VISITED THE TUNISIAN PARLIAMENT, 
HOWEVER, APART FROM SOME VAGUE PUBLIC EXPRESSIONS OF 
FRATERNITY AND FRIENDSHIP, THE VISIT SEEEMS TO HAVE 
ACCOMPLISHED VERY LITTLE.  THE EARLY 1988 VISIT OF 
THE ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER APPEARS TO HAVE PRODUCED 
SIMILAR RESULTS AND THE SAME CAN BE SAID FOR THE 
MARCH VISIT OF A BULGARIAN STATE COUNCIL VICE 
PRESIDENT. 
 
9.  ECONOMIC: 
 
A.  (LOU) TUNISIA'S ECONOMIC AND COMMERCIAL LINKS 
WITH COMMUNIST COUNTRIES ARE SLIGHT IN COMPARISON TO 
THOSE WITH TUNISIA'S TRADITIONAL TRADING PARTNERS 
AND, DURING 1988, REMAINED RELATIVELY CONSTANT. 
 
-USSR:  IN NOVEMBER, THE TUNISIAN GOVERNMENT 
ANNOUNCED ITS INTENTION TO REINFORCE BILATERAL 
COMMERCIAL TIES WITH THE SOVIET UNION IN 1989.  TO 
THIS END, THE TUNISIAN-SOVIET JOINT COMMISSION WILL 
MEET IN TUNIS IN DECEMBER (WITH THE SOVIET DELEGATION 
LED BY THEIR MINISTER OF PLANS).  ALSO DURING THIS 
PERIOD, THE SOVIETS PROVIDED MATERIAL ASSISTANCE IN 
THE FORM OF TWO LARGE BIPLANE CROP DUSTERS TO ASSIST 
TUNISIA AGAINST THE NORTH AFRICAN LOCUST INVASION. 
THE SOVIET UNION EXPORTS LUMBER, AMMONIA, POTASSIUM, 
AGRICULTURAL EQUIPMENT, HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION 
MATERIALS, BOOKS AND FILMS TO TUNISIA.  IN 1988, THE 
USSR PURCHASED APPROXIMATELY 180,000 METRIC TONS OF 
TUNISIAN TRIPLE SUPERPHOSPHATE (FOR APPROXIMATELY 
U.S. DOLLARS 27 MILLION) AND OLIVE OIL. 
 
B.  (C) EASTERN EUROPE:  BASED ON INTERVIEWS WITH 
SEVERAL EAST BLOC OFFFICIALS, THE CHANGE IN TUNISIAN 
GOVERNMENT HAS HAD LITTLE IMPACT ON ECONOMIC AND 
COMMERCIAL RELATIONS. 
 
-CZECHOSLOVAKIA:  TRADE FIGURES DROPPED CONSIDERABLY 
FROM U.S. DOLLARS 10 MILLION WORTH OF CZECHOSLOVAK 
EXPORTS TO TUNISIA IN 1986 TO 4.9 MILLION IN 1987. 
TUNISIAN EXPORTS TO CZECHOSLOVAKIA (MOSTLY PHOSPHATE 
BASED PRODUCTS) DROPPED FROM U.S. DOLLARS 11 MILLION 
TO 6.6 MILLION DURING THE SAME PERIOD.  ACCORDING TO 
A CZECHOSLOVAK OFFICIAL, BOTH FIGURES ARE EXPECTED TO 
INCREASE BY APPROXIMATELY THIRTY PERCENT IN 1988. 
 
-POLAND:  A POLISH OFFICIAL SAID THAT COMMERCIAL 
RELATIONS WITH TUNISIA HAD IN FACT CHANGED FOR THE 
BETTER SINCE THE CHANGE OF POWER.  HE FIRST NOTED 
THAT THE TUNISIAN MINISTRY OF INDUSTRY NO LONGER HAD 
TO GRANT SPECIAL WAIVERS TO TUNISIAN COMPANIES WHO 
DESIRED TO DO BUSINESS WITH POLAND AND THAT THE 
CENTRAL BANK BUREAUCRACY WAS "MORE COOPERATIVE". 
THIS NOTED, HE SAID THE TRADE FIGURES REMAINED 
RELATIVELY CONSTANT, I.E. POLISH EXPORTS TO TUNISIA 
REMAINED AT THE APPROXIMATE U.S. DOLLARS 22 MILLION 
LEVEL AND TUNISIAN PRODUCTS IMPORTED TO POLAND 
ACTUALLY FELL TO APPROXIMATELY U.S. DOLLARS 1.5 
MILLION IN 1988.  THE OFFICIAL ATTRIBUTED THIS DROP 
TO ONGOING INTERNAL REFORMS IN POLAND.  HE WOULD NOT 
SPECULATE ON WHAT EFFECT THE PLANNED JANUARY 1988 
ABOLISHMENT OF POLAND'S CENTRAL EXPORT/IMPORT 
PARASTATAL COMPANY WOULD HAVE ON POLISH-TUNISIAN 
COMMERCIAL RELATIONS.  HE ADDED THAT THE TUNISIAN 
SIDE "PUSHED" BARTER TRADE OVER HARD CURRENCY 
PURCHASES. 
 
-BULGARIA:  A BULGARIAN OFFICIAL TOLD THE EMBASSY 
THAT BILATERAL COMMERCIAL RELATIONS REMAINED 
RELATIVELY CONSTANT DURING 1988.  HE ADDED THAT THERE 
WAS NO BULGARIAN ECONOMIC AID FOR TUNISIA (CITING 
LIMITED RESOURCES AS THE REASON) AND SAID HE BELIEVED 
THIS WAS THE CASE FOR OTHER EAST BLOC COUNTRIES. 
 
-ROMANIA:  A ROMANIAN OFFICIAL TOLD US THAT THERE IS 
NO ROMANIAN ECONOMIC AID PER SE TO TUNISIA AND THAT 
ROMANIAN-TUNISIAN COMMERCIAL TIES HAVE REMAINED 
RELATIVELY CONSTANT.  HE NOTED THAT THE 
"LIBERALIZATION" OF TUNISIA'S IMPORT RESTRICTIONS 
COULD INCREASE ROMANIAN TRADE WITH TUNISIA DURING THE 
COMING YEAR. 
 
C.  (LOU) CHINA:  SINO-TUNISIAN ECONOMIC COOPERATION 
HAS CONTINUED MUCH AT THE SAME PACE DURING THIS 
PERIOD AS DURING THE PAST.  BASED ON A 1985 
AGREEMENT, CONSTRUCTION BEGAN IN MID 1988 IN CHINA ON 
A SINO-TUNISIAN-KUWAITI FERTILIZER PROCESSING PLANT. 
TUNISIA'S PARTICIPATION IN THE VENTURE IS 30 PERCENT 
AND TUNISIA WILL SUPPLY CHINA WITH 250,000 METRIC 
TONS OF PHOSPHORIC ACID PER YEAR. 
 
10.  MILITARY: 
 
(S) TUNISIAN MILITARY TIES WITH COMMUNIST COUNTRIES 
ARE MINIMAL.  AS OF THIS REPORT, ONLY ONE COMMUNIST 
MILITARY ATTACHE HAD BEEN ACCREDITED TO TUNISIA (GDR, 
RESIDENT IN ALGIERS).  AS OF LATE NOVEMBER, THERE 
WERE INDICATIONS THAT THE SOVIETS WERE PLANNING TO 
PRESENT THE ACCREDITATION PAPERS OF THEIR OWN 
MILITARY ATTACHE.  IN EARLY DECEMBER, A CHINESE 
OFFICIAL SAID THAT THE PRC WOULD PROBABLY ACCREDIT A 
MILITARY ATTACHE BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR.  THIS 
MARKS A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN TUNISIAN-COMMUNIST BLOC 
RELATIONS AS FORMER PRESIDENT BOURGUIBA HAD 
SPECIFICALLY BARRED THE COMMUNIST COUNTRIES FROM 
OPENING MILITARY ATTACHE OFFICES.  AS OF THIS 
WRITING, THERE WERE NO COMMUNIST MILITARY TECHNICIANS 
OR ADVISORS IN TUNISIA.  ASIDE FROM THE SOVIET SHIP 
REPAIR CONTRACT, THERE IS NO KNOWN SIGNIFICANT 
COMMUNIST MILITARY ACTIVITY IN TUNISIA.  THERE HAVE 
BEEN NO CONFIRMED REPORTS OF TUNISIANS TRAVELING TO 
COMMUNIST COUNTRIES FOR MILITARY TRAINING.  COMMUNIST 
BLOC MILITARY AID HAS THUS FAR BEEN NON-EXISTANT. 
THIS NOTED, A CHINESE OFFICIAL SAID THAT, DURING THE 
RECENT MAGHREB TOUR OF A CHINESE MILITARY DELEGATION, 
TUNISIA REQUESTED CHINESE AID IN THE FORM OF 
UNSPECIFIED NAVAL VESSELS.  HE ADDED THAT, AS OF 
DECEMBER, THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT HAD NOT YET COME TO 
A DECISION ON THE MATTER. 
 
 
PELLETREAU 

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