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Russia/sale of Mistral ships

Published on August 11, 2014
Interview given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to TF1 (excerpts)

Paris, July 22, 2014



Q. – France is due to deliver two French military Mistral ships to Russia. Is this delivery being called into question?

THE MINISTER – No. It’s a contract which was signed in 2011; it was another government, but it doesn’t much matter. There’s a rule which applies internationally as well as nationally: contracts which have been signed and, moreover, paid, must be honoured.

The President has said that the contract for the first ship, which is due to be delivered in October, will be honoured and that, for the second ship, which hasn’t yet been finished being built, [due] next year, it will depend on the Russians’ attitude.

Q. – But the contract for the second ship has also been signed!

THE MINISTER – Yes, of course! But it isn’t…

Q. – We aren’t obliged to honour that one!

THE MINISTER – It isn’t at the same stage. So, as regards your report, the British in particular have been “extremely gracious” by saying “we would never have done that”. I reminded them that the principle I mentioned existed for everyone, and I also said to them: “Dear British friends, let’s also talk about finance. I understand there are quite a few Russian oligarchs in London”.

Q. – You’re asking them to put their own house in order before making that kind of comment.

THE MINISTER – Precisely. It’s called national sovereignty.


Q. – You’re saying we’ll see what happens for the second ship. But what does Vladimir Putin have to do exactly for the second ship not to be delivered the Russians? We get the impression nonetheless that this is to buy some time!

THE MINISTER – No. Moreover, we decided, and this will be published on Thursday, on sanctions – now, this is important – in four new areas.

Finance – I’ve just referred to this –, defence in the broad sense for new contracts, so-called dual-use goods and also new technology. So, on Thursday, we’ll have a list on which the heads of state and government will have to come to a decision.


Q. – The Americans are very firmly pointing the finger at Russia; they’re saying they are the ones arming the rebels. The Russians are saying “no, we’ve never armed the rebels”. What’s France saying? What are you saying?

THE MINISTER – We’re stating orally and in writing (…) that the Russians must stop arming the rebels. Because it’s absolutely true that they’re doing this.

Q. – So, they’re doing this and you think they’re partly responsible for what happened with MH17?

THE MINISTER – I think the investigation will establish this. Personally, I’m inclined towards that. But one of the key points in our discussion this afternoon was to say to the Russians: “you really have to cooperate now”, which hasn’t been the case lately. (…)./.

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