Czech govt delays Gripens debate, Necas wants direct talks with Swedish PM.

By bne IntelliNews February 28, 2013
The Czech government decided on Feb 27 to delay to March the debate on the lease of Gripen fighter jets and PM Petar Nacas said he will seek direct talks with his Swedish counterpart about conditions for prolonging the lease of the jets, CTK news agency reported. The Czech Republic signed in 2004 a CZK 19.6bn (EUR 765mn) contract to lease 14 Gripens jets. The contract expires in 2014 and the government has been in talks with the Swedish maker of the jets, Saab AB, for more than a year now but conditions offered by the company does not seem to please the Czechs. So Necas will try to negotiate better terms with the Swedish premier. The Czech government has been considering three options for the jets. The first option is paying some CZK 5bn for extending the lease of the jets for another three years. The other two options are for a longer lease of five and ten years, respectively, and the value of the two contracts is planned at CZK 8bn and CZK 14bn. The government is split on the issue with Necas preferring the shortest lease and then holding a tender for the purchase of new ones. On the other hand, foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg is in favour of prolonging the Gripen lease for a longer period of time.

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