Final Word from Thursday, December 18, 2003





The Špidla cabinet made another one of its Soloman-like half-decisions last night. It agreed to enter into exclusive negotiations with Sweden regarding the lease of Gripen supersonic fighters, but it delayed any final decision for another two months. It's another victory for the Swedes, and it could also be good news for Czech taxpayers. The Belgians and Dutch, you see, have already sent in revised offers, which the government can now use for squeezing better terms out of the Swedes. In effect, the government is reneging on its claim that the contest is over. If the Swedes don't at least match the revised Belgian and Dutch offers, the cabinet can scupper the Swedish proposal and return to the table with those offering F-16s. On the surface, the lobbying might die down after last night's half-decision, but in reality now is when the real horse-trading begins. Vladimír Lockheed Martin BAE Systems Saab

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