Courtesy of Reuters
April 24, 2015
No decision has yet been taken on the future of France’s suspended contract to deliver Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia, French President Francois Hollande said on Friday after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“As far as the Mistral is concerned I have set the terms. Either the Mistral is delivered, which is not our decision as of today, or a repayment will be made in the form we have discussed,” Hollande said at a news conference after the meeting in Yerevan, Armenia.
Separately, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told Reuters in Paris the French government would make sure the companies and workers involved were not affected.
“Technically we are ready so that this decision, if it is taken, will not damage the companies and workers involved,” he said.
Earlier on Friday a Russian source close to the talks said Russia and France were close to an agreement for Paristo cancel the contract and reimburse Moscow.
The DCNS unit of Thales, 26% owned by the French state and 25% by Dassault Aviation, is a prime contractor on the Mistral.
France suspended the delivery of the warships last year after the European Union decided to impose sanctions on Russia over the separatist conflict in neighboring Ukraine.
French President Francois Hollande, who was holding talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Armenian capital of Yerevan on Friday, suggested on Wednesday that Paris could cancel the contract and reimburse Moscow.
Putin had said the previous week that Moscow would not impose penalties on France over the 1.2 billion euro ($1.29 billion) deal if all costs incurred by Russia were reimbursed.
Referring to the statement Hollande made on Wednesday, the Russian source close to talks said: “We value this declaration very highly.”
The source said Hollande had proposed an “acceptable” solution and that France would be able to “save face,” but declined to give more details of the proposed solution.
Putin and Hollande were meeting on the sidelines of ceremonies marking the centenary of a mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks.
Ties between Moscow and the West are at their lowest in decades over Ukraine, where Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula last year and is accused by the West of providing separatists in the east of the country with weapons, troops, intelligence and training.