Romanian-French relations, still in the stage of good intentions

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By Constantin Radut
Yesterday and today, a visit of the head of government from Bucharest took place in Paris, accompanied by several ministers, including the one of the economy and the one of the national defense. It is the largest Romanian government delegation that has traveled to France in recent years.
Although, according to the structure of the delegation, important results were expected in the sectors of economic and military cooperation, the visit proved to be particularly poor in practical terms. Only the promising statements of the Romanian PM remain to be materialized.
Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said in Paris on Monday that he had signed a new roadmap with his French counterpart, Jean Castex, on the Strategic Partnership between the two countries, “with an updated, ambitious structure.”
Prime Minister Paris specified that the Declaration of Intent in the civil nuclear field, signed with his French counterpart, Jean Castex, aims, among other things, to collaborate with strategic partners in carrying out the construction project of reactors 3 and 4 at Cernavoda.
This is a very conclusive objective, given that the strategy of the Romanian nuclear energy sector will be led by an American company. This does not satisfy the French who have extensive experience in the field and will not accept to be the wheel of the American car.
Regarding the endowment of naval forces with corvettes manufactured jointly with the French side, things seem more and more unclear, and the presence of the Minister of National Defense was purely decorative.
The authorities in Bucharest specified to the French partners that as soon as the litigations regarding the construction of the four multifunctional corvettes from the Army endowment program will be concluded, the contract with the winner of the tender will be able to be signed.
“In terms of military cooperation, we have addressed current issues such as the corvette contract. And here we have presented our point of view. There have been several lawsuits that have been launched by a competitor against the contract award decision that As soon as these disputes are settled in court, from our point of view, we are ready to sign the contract, for us it is extremely important to sign and execute this contract, the construction of the four corvettes, which are extremely of importance in the strategic device of Romania at the Black Sea “, showed the PM of Romania, in a statement made at the headquarters of the Romanian Embassy in Paris.
On July 23, present in Constanţa, Ludovic Orban declared that, from his point of view, negotiations can be started with the consortium Naval Group – Constanţa Shipyard for signing the construction contract for the four multifunctional corvettes from the Army endowment program, having In view of the fact that the court rejected by a final decision the appeal filed by Damen.
Orban described the continuation of the dispute in court as “harassment difficult to accept”.
“It seems to me a harassment that is difficult to accept. The main process, namely the appeal against the decision to award the contract to the consortium Naval Group – Shipyard Constanta was rejected by a final court decision. From my point of view, the final negotiations can begin in with a view to signing the construction contract, even if there is still a dispute which, I repeat, no longer has any basis, as long as the court has ruled by final decision on the main issue, namely the decision to award the consortium performing the contract, from my point there is no longer a legal problem for negotiating and signing the contract, “the prime minister said at the time.
The Bucharest Court of Appeal definitively rejected the request of the Dutch company Damen to cancel the 1.6 billion euro contract award procedure for the construction of multifunctional military corvettes, a contract won by the Naval Group and the Constanţa Shipyard. CAB rejected as unfounded the appeal filed by Damen and upheld a decision of the Bucharest Tribunal from October 2019.
In July 2019, the then Minister of Defense, Gabriel Leş, announced that the association between the French company Naval Group and the Constanţa Shipyard won the tender for the construction of multifunctional corvettes.
A few days later, the Dutch group Damen filed a complaint with the National Council for the Settlement of Appeals, continuing a dispute previously initiated by the Italian company Fincantieri and, in parallel, filed lawsuits, citing multiple irregularities that would have affected the outcome of the “Corvette Multifunction “.

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