Nicolas Sarkozy, former president of France and would-be 2017 presidential candidate from the UMP party, stated on Saturday, November 15, that France should “keep its word” and deliver two Mistral warships to Russia,” the AFP news agency reported.
Sarkozy also mocked the “pathetic” stance of his successor François Hollande on the matter. “Russia is a natural partner of France” and Paris should “honor its word on the Mistral contract,” the former president said during a meeting of the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) in Aulnay-sous-Bois (Seine-Saint-Denis department).
“It is quite possible to support the position of not delivering the Mistral ships. For my part, I maintain that we need to deliver them. But it is perfectly acceptable to argue for that position (non-delivery — Ed.), including in my political family. It is not a subject that should be a cause for quarrel among us.
“What I do not accept, however, is that the decision to suspend the delivery of the Mistral ships was made in a pathetic manner the evening before the NATO summit (in September) because the President of the United States asked (us) to do it. France determines its own direction, and not because so and so asks it to have a certain position,” he said.
The Mistral force projection and command vessels are versatile war ships that can carry helicopters and tanks and serve as military command headquarters. The contract for their sale to Russia for nearly EUR 1.2 billion was signed in June 2011 during the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy.
President François Hollande has maintained that the ceasefire in Ukraine needs to be “fully respected” before France delivers the first vessel to Russia.
A “highly placed” source in Russia cited by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti said on Friday, November 14, that France has until late November to deliver the first ship or else face “serious” claims for compensation.
But, according to the French delegation to the G20 summit in Brisbane, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President François Hollande never brought up the issue of the Mistral ships during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the summit on Saturday, November 15.