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Poland, France discuss failed chopper tender amid tensions

PR dla Zagranicy
Roberto Galea 12.10.2016 14:27
The Polish and French foreign ministers have discussed a failed deal to buy choppers from France-based Airbus Helicopters, while the government in Warsaw encouraged Airbus to participate in future tenders.
An Airbus helicopter. Photo: Wikimedia CommonsAn Airbus helicopter. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday, the Polish and French ministers held a telephone conversation after Poland announced that negotiations over a PLN 13.4 bln purchase of 50 Caracal helicopters for the Polish armed forces had ended.

No more details of the meeting – in the wake of diplomatic tensions between the two countries – were made public, other than it was "held in good and businesslike atmosphere".

French President Francois Hollande over the weekend announced he was postponing a visit to Poland set for Thursday. French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was also expected in Warsaw this Monday but also cancelled.

Airbus to sue?

Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders said the company would be seeking compensation for the failed negotiations over the multipurpose helicopters, according to several news outlets.

In an open letter addressed to the Polish PM, Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury contested Poland’s decision to “unilaterally” end the negotiation process.

Jarosław Kaczyński, the head of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party, told the PAP news agency that the French reaction was “sharp, nervous, but these things always last only for a certain time.”

‘No grounds’ for compensation

Meanwhile, Poland's deputy development minister Radosław Domagalski-Łabędzki said Polish officials had conducted negotiations in good faith and ended talks according to a schedule agreed by both sides and therefore compensation for Airbus “has no grounds”.

Airbus Helicopters’ letter said that the company was offering to open a production line in central Poland, create 6,000 new jobs and compensate Poland the gross value of the tender.

Domagalski said that it is “a shame, that letters with these arguments were written after negotiations ended, because no such information was in any of the official documents put forward by Airbus.”

The four-year long negotiations, which started under the previous Civic Platform-led government, were for the purchase 50 ‘Eurocopter’ EC725 helicopters from Airbus.

The decision to purchase from a French firm was met with domestic criticism at the time. The Law and Justice government indicated that it might cancel the deal after winning elections in October 2015. (vz/rg/pk)

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