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Airbus deal aimed to compensate France over Mistrals: ex-president


A deal by the previous Polish government to purchase 50 aircraft from France-based Airbus Helicopters was a “gentleman’s agreement” to compensate France’s loss of the Mistral battleship deal with Russia, a former Polish president has said.

“Please note that Poland played an important part in forcing France to withdraw from one of its most profitable contracts, namely the sale of Mistral battleships to Russia in connection with the aggression in Ukraine,” former Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski told Radio Zet.

Kwaśniewski added that the purchase of helicopters for the Polish army from Airbus would have made up for the loss, “because then there was a gentlemen’s agreement in the European Union and NATO that upcoming contracts for military equipment would take a more sympathetic view of French offers to obviously make up for those unsold [Mistral ships]”.

Science Minister Jarosław Gowin told Polish Radio that if confirmed, Kwaśniewski’s comments showed another negative side of the contract.

“[The deal] involved some kind of political agreement with the French government. It is a very good thing that the Russians could not buy those modern French warships. I do not know, however, why Polish taxpayers should pay for it,” Gowin said.

Poland’s governing Law and Justice (PiS) party has announced that the deal with Airbus fell through, and it would be looking for alternative companies to supply the country with multi-purpose helicopters for its army.

In late 2014, French President Francois Hollande announced that France would not be delivering two Mistral battleships to Russia due to Moscow’s “recent actions in Ukraine”. The ships were eventually sold to Egypt.

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