WARSAW Oct 14 Poland could still buy aircraft
from Airbus, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said
on Friday, in an apparent attempt to calm a procurement row with
France over a cancelled deal to buy 50 helicopters from the
Waszczykowski said Airbus, Europe's largest aerospace group,
was welcome to participate in any future tenders, and Poland was
interested in the company's sea operations helicopters.
"The Polish army needs helicopters," Waszczykowski told
public broadcaster TVP. "And the Caracals (Airbus helicopters)
can take part in various tenders," he said, adding Poland also
needed an airplane for government use.
Poland's decision to walk away from a preliminary deal to
buy Airbus's utility Caracal helicopters for 13.5 billion zlotys
($3.53 billion) has angered Paris, leading French President
Francois Hollande to cancel a planned visit this week.
Airbus has threatened legal action, saying the Polish
government had been shifting the goal posts as it competed with
U.S. and Italian rivals.
Warsaw's eurosceptic officials argued the French offer,
agreed by a previous government last year, was expensive and
offered insufficient incentives for domestic industry.
But their decision earlier this month to scrap the deal has
added to mounting displeasure with Poland in western Europe and
may have cost Warsaw an important ally in its push for tough
policy against Russia in the European Union.
It may also delay a vast army refurbishment programme at a
time of heightened Russian assertiveness in eastern Europe.
Poland's prime minister was quoted as saying earlier this
week that Warsaw would offer France alternative investment
projects after cancelling the helicopter deal.
($1 = 3.8193 zlotys)
(Reporting by Marcin Goettig; Editing by Mark Potter)