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France’s ex-PM says France should deliver Mistral ships to Russia

November 16, 2014, 23:08 UTC+3 PARIS
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PARIS, November 16. /TASS/. France should deliver Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia, France’s former Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Sunday.

“I think in the long run France should deliver Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia, since it must fulfill its contract obligations. Naturally, to hand over the ships, there should be appropriate /political/ conditions,” he told the BFM television channel. “In this issue, France should not yield to ultimatums wherever they might come from.”

“President Francois Hollande was absolutely right saying as a supreme commander-in-chief he would take a decision on this matter on his own,” Fillon said.

“He is the head of state and must protect France’s interests and in no event should yield to outside pressure, let alone provocations.”

“If France decides to take new measures against Russia in order to promote peace, to observe the Minsk agreements, to observe the ceasefire regime, it must be done. In this case, the president of France has all the rights to suspend Mistrals’ handing over to Russia,” he said. “But France should not be the only European Union state that will have to pay from the current confrontation with Moscow.”

Earier on Sunday, speaking after the Group of Twenty summit in Australia’s Brisbane, Hollande said the decision about Mistral deliveries would be taken independently, proceeding from two key criteria - France’s interests and France’s own analysis of the current situation.

Russia and France signed a contract on the construction of Mistral helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy in June 2011. The first ship that was given the name the Vladivostok was floated out in October 2013. In September 2014, despite the fact that issue of its handing over to Russia was still unsettled, the ship sailed off for trials with Russian sailors aboard. The Vladivostok was supposed to have been handed over to Russia on Friday, November 14. The ceremony, however, has been cancelled at the request from Paris. French President Francois Hollande said that full observation of the ceasefire regime in eastern Ukraine was the key condition for the Mistral’s delivery to Russia. The second Mistral, the Sevastopol, is to be commissioned next year. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls however said that the delay in the Vladivostok’s handing over to Russia did not mean that cancellation of the contract.

The sum total of the Mistral contract is 1.12 billion euro. In case the contract is frustrated, France will have to pay a giant sum in cancellation penalty.

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