Rafale: French Minister criticises Hollande but doesn’t contradict him; report

A report says that French Secretary of State Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne has said former President Hollande’s statements on the Rafale deal “render no service to France”, but didn’t contradict Hollande

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NH Web Desk

The Indian Express has reported that Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, the French Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, has criticised former French President Francois Hollande for his remarks made to a French website—that it was the Narendra Modi Government which had selected Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Limited as offset partner for the Rafale fighter jet deal, and that neither the French Government or Rafale-makers Dassault Aviation had any choice in the matter.

However, the article noted that Lemoyne “did not contradict the remarks made by Hollande in any manner or counter the former president’s allegation that the French “didn’t have a choice” as Ambani’s Reliance Defence “was given to us” by the Indian government as an offset partner for the ₹58,000-crore deal.

The article reported that Lemoyne has said that Hollande’s statements “render no service to France”. However, the article noted that Lemoyne “did not contradict the remarks made by Hollande in any manner or counter the former president’s allegation that the French “didn’t have a choice” as Ambani’s Reliance Defence “was given to us” by the Indian government as an offset partner for the ₹58,000-crore deal.

Lemoyne’s statements were made to French Radio J. The article quoted him as saying that Hollande’s "small observation made abroad concerning the important relations between France and India does not do anyone any service, and certainly renders no service to France”, adding that “As one is no longer in office, one is not best placed to reflect on a situation about aspects of the strategic partnership between India and France that have clearly aroused controversy in India.”

The article noted that Lemoyne “did not contradict the remarks made by Hollande in any manner or counter the former president’s allegation that the French “didn’t have a choice” as Ambani’s Reliance Defence “was given to us” by the Indian government as an offset partner for the ₹58,000-crore deal

Lemoyne, a minister in President Emmanuel Macron’s government, was in Opposition when Hollande was French President from 2012 to 2017, said the article, adding that Lemoyne’s statements were “likely to generate more heat on the Rafale controversy in French politics”.

The Narendra Modi Government has insisted throughout and continues to maintain that it was Dassault that chose its Indian partner and that the Indian government has had no say in it. Dassault Aviation has also said that it chose Reliance Defence. However, the Congress party on September 23 released a video which shows Dassault Chairman Eric Trappier speaking on March 25, 2015 in presence of IAF and HAL officers about responsibility sharing on Rafale contract—just 17 days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the new Rafale deal excluding HAL in Paris, France in presence of former President Hollande. Trappier can be heard saying in the video, “You can imagine my great satisfaction to hear on one hand from the Indian Air Force chief of staff that he wants a combat proven aircraft which could be the Rafale... and on the other hand from HAL chairman that we are in agreement for the responsibilities sharing... I strongly believe that contract finalisation and signature would come very soon.”

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