* France to review all defence ties with Poland - source
* Poland cancels $3.5 bln Airbus helicopter contract
* French president cancels scheduled visit to Warsaw
(Adds Polish foreign minister's statement)
By Marine Pennetier and John Irish
PARIS, Oct 7 France reacted angrily on Friday
after Poland scrapped a multi-billion dollar helicopter deal
with Airbus, saying it would review defence cooperation with its
NATO ally and cancelling a presidential visit to Warsaw.
Poland had agreed to buy 50 Airbus utility
helicopters in April 2015 for 13.5 billion zlotys ($3.5 billion)
as part of efforts to modernize its military at a time of
tensions with Russia.
Its previous, centrist government, which was beaten by the
Law and Justice (PiS) party in elections last October, had
agreed the provisional deal. But on Oct. 4 the new
administration said it was scrapping the contract altogether.
Members of the new eurosceptic government have said they
would rather see the deal awarded to a company that could build
the helicopters locally.
"The Franco-Polish bilateral relationship will undeniably be
extremely affected by this decision," a French source close to
the matter said.
"The contract's cancellation will force us to review all the
defence cooperation that we have with Poland and see what can be
maintained and sadly what can't in the current context."
Without indicating which investments, the source added that
the French government, which holds roughly 11 percent in Airbus,
would advise the firm to review its strategy in the country,
including investments that had already been made.
A source in the French presidency said earlier that
President Francois Hollande had decided to cancel a visit to
Warsaw next week for intergovernmental consultations, in
Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski attempted to
play down the spat, emphasizing that Poland had offered
"important concessions" in the failed commercial negotiations.
"Due to persistent differences in negotiating positions it
proved impossible to reach a compromise," he said in a
statement, adding that the abandoned contract "will not affect
overall cooperation with France".
In a speech on Friday, Prime Minister Manuel Valls took a
swipe at Poland at a time when the European Union is trying to
reinforce its common defence policy in the face of growing
concerns over Russian foreign policy, Islamic militancy and the
"Poland is a big country, but questions need to be asked of
Poland, notably its defence industry, after the choices that
have just been made," Valls said.
"As far as France is concerned, we're worried because
negotiations had started, but also for the very concept of
Polish media has reported that Warsaw has already begun
negotiations with U.S. firm Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky,
manufacturer of locally produced Black Hawk helicopters that
could be purchased by the Polish army as soon as this year.
As well as boosting Poland's defence industry, buying
Sikorsky helicopters could further strengthen Warsaw's ties with
Washington, already its closest ally.
"Before we had a centre-right platform that understood it
was in Poland's interest to go beyond the U.S. axis and have a
bilateral relationship with France and Germany," a French
diplomatic source said.
"But clearly the PiS doesn't understand the benefits for
Poland, which are frankly huge in its European arena."
Poland's government spokesman and the defence and economy
ministries were not immediately available for comment.
(Additional reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey, Elizabeth Pineau
and Agnieszka Barteczko in Warsaw; Editing by Leigh Thomas and