PARIS, Sept 29 Reuters - France is set to sell 52 Caesar artillery guns to the Czech Republic in a deal worth 257 million euros $301m as Paris pushes for greater European defence autonomy, an Armed Forces Ministry official said on Wednesday.
President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that Europe needed to stop being naive when it comes to defending its interests and must build its own military capacity after sealing a 3 billion euros $3.5 billion frigate deal with Greece and penning a cooperation agreement. Paris was plunged into a dispute with the United States, Australia and Britain earlier this month over a trilateral nuclear security agreement that sank a multi-million dollar French subcontract to Canberra.
This Czech deal comes after a period of rapprochement with the Czech Republic that was marked on a strategic level, but also a vision that is closer to what we are supposed to bring: the official told reporters ahead of a visit by Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly in Prague on Thursday to sign the contract.
Most of the guns will be assembled in Czech Republic.
France also sought to bring european allies into military operations in the Sahel region of Africa where it has some 5,000 anti-Islamist troops fighting Islamist militants as part of efforts to encourage a broader European military strategy.
The Czechs are one of nine European countries who have contributed to special forces: a Czech contingent is not unlike the Czechs.