Hollande cancels Polish visit after Airbus deal scrapped
October 07 2016 06:45 PM
A Caracal helicopter is seen in this file picture. Airbus won a tender last year to supply 50 Airbus utility helicopters to Poland.


France's president on Friday sought to show his anger over a decision by the Polish government to scrap a multi-billion dollar Airbus helicopter deal by cancelling planned bilateral talks scheduled next week in Warsaw.
Poland had agreed to buy 50 Airbus utility helicopters in April 2015 for 13.5bn zlotys ($3.5bn) deal as part of efforts to modernise its military amid tensions with Russia, but also improve coordination with its Nato allies.
"France has decided to postpone the planned intergovernmental consultations after the confirmation of the Polish defence ministry to cancel the tender won by Airbus in April 2015 for Caracal helicopters," a source close to the presidency said.
Poland's previous centrist government, beaten by the eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) party in elections last October, had agreed the provisional deal, but on October 4 the new authorities said they were scrapping the contract altogether.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault had been scheduled to also travel to Warsaw on October 13 and the source said Francois Hollande had asked him to go to Poland "quickly."
The Polish decision has visibly irked Paris. In a speech on Friday, Prime Minister Manuel Valls took a swipe at Poland at a time when the European Union is trying to reinforce its common defence policy in the face of growing concerns over Russian foreign policy, Islamic militancy and the refugee crisis.
"Poland is a big country, but questions need to be asked to Poland, notably its defence industry after the choices that have just been made, " Valls said.
"As far as France is concerned, we're worried because negotiations had started, but also for the very concept of European defence."

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