Final Word from Friday, December 12, 2003





After U.S. Amb. Craig Stapleton told Czech Radio yesterday that Czech-U.S. relations would be affected if the CR acquired Gripen fighters from Sweden instead of F-16s made by the U.S., Premier Vladimír Špidla told the BBC that one commercial deal can't have a lasting effect on bilateral relations. There's more at stake here than just a few airplanes, though. Boeing is already losing the global battle for commercial aircraft to Airbus, and this risks spreading to ČSA in "New Europe" as well. A loss in the CR by Lockheed Martin on the military front would be a another big blow to the U.S. aviation industry and to Nato's position in Europe. If the CR defies the U.S. and chooses the Gripens, Washington can be expected to respond. It's ominous for the CR that Stapleton's comment came just two days after the U.S. cut off France and Germany from contracts in Iraq.

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