Sydney, Australia, Oct 29 (EFE).- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison treated France with “contempt” and “deliberately deceived” Paris when he scrapped a deal for the construction of 12 submarines awarded to a French company, according to his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday.
“The Australian government has treated the French Republic with contempt – it won’t be forgotten,” said Turnbull in an address to the Australian Press Club, adding that the handling of the decision to cancel the $66 billion contract with state-owned Naval Group was “clumsy, deceitful and costly.”
The decision, which has caused a diplomatic rift with France, became known shortly after Australia signed in a defense pact with the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS) two weeks ago, which includes the development of nuclear submarines for Canberra.
“This is an appalling episode in Australia’s international affairs and the consequences of it will endure to our disadvantage for a very long time,” said Turnbull, whose government awarded the contract for the construction of 12 diesel-electric submarines to the Naval Group in 2016.
The former Australian prime minister, who was replaced by Morrison in 2018, also indicated that he had spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron recently, even though Morrison has not been able to secure a phone call with him.
Morrison last week admitted that Macron has refused to answer his calls and said he would wait for relations with France to normalize.
Turnbull also said that Australia should have adequately informed France of its intentions to acquire nuclear submarines, although Morrison assures that he told Paris in June that the Naval Group’s conventional submarines did not satisfy its current strategic interests in the region.
“What seems to have been overlooked is that one of our national security assets is trustworthiness,” Turnbull said. EFE