05:24 GMT +316 October 2019
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    French President Francois Hollande

    Hollande Under Fire After Newspaper Reveals True Cost of Mistral Fiasco

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    French President Francois Hollande faces pressure from both Nicolas Sarkozy's and Marine Le Pen's parties after a newspaper revealed that the true cost of breaking the Mistral contract with Russia may be more than double the declared sum.

    The French government may end up paying over 2-2.4 billion euros ($2.23-$2.67 billion) for breaking the Mistral deal with Russia and not 1.2 billion ($1.34), French weekly Le Canard Enchaine found.

    The finding led both Nicolas Sarkozy's Republicans party and Marine Le Pen's National Front to criticize President Francois Hollande. Sarkozy's party demanded the creation of a parliamentary committee while Le Pen's called for Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian's resignation. France cannot afford to keep the ships for itself and would have to resell them to a third country, likely at distressed prices, according to reports.

    "Mistral revelations: Two billion euros, the price of Hollande's whims," the National Front party tweeted.

    Mistral Losses

    According to the publication, France paid back the 896 million euro ($996 million) advance payment, together with another 100 million euro ($111 million) in compensation for Russia's refitting of its helicopters for the amphibious craft.

    However, the French government would also have to compensate the shipyards and engineers 600 million euros and 350 million euros each. In addition, the ships would have to be refitted with NATO regulation electronics to be sold, to the tune of another 200 million euros. Before the likely distressed sale, the French government would spend roughly 5 million euros per month to keep the ships on the docks.

    Lastly, France lost the prospect of selling the license to build Mistrals in Russia, as well as the repair and maintenance contract, totaling 490 million euros.

    French legislator and President of the National Assembly, Socialist Party member Claude Bartolone blasted the report, saying "What I know is that I had a long discussion with the Prime Minister and he said <…> that the set of figures will be announced and formalized in the fall. He did not go into the details of the numbers, but it's going well, according to what the Prime Minister told me."

    Political Opposition

    Both Marine Le Pen's National Front and Nicolas Sarkozy's Republicans party came out with criticisms of Hollande for his decision to back out of the Mistral deal with Russia.

    Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, was in charge during negotiations which secured the deal for France. At the time, many political analysts saw the deal as a show of warming relations with France, following Sarkozy's role in negotiating the end of the 2008 South Ossetia crisis.

    Le Pen's National Front party put out a communique saying that the "astronomical cost" of the broken deal adds "indecency to the ineptitude of this decision." The party communique added that the money could have instead been used to solve budget issues of local governments or to build a new aircraft carrier for France itself.

     

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    Tags:
    France, political scandal, newspaper, investigation, Mistral, Marine Le Pen, Nicolas Sarkozy, Francois Hollande
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