(NSI News Source Info) LJUBLJANA - April 11, 2009: Slovenia's government is considering canceling a 278-million-euro ($364 million) contract with Finnish defense firm Patria due to delivery delays and other problems, a Slovenian daily reported April 9. "I strongly support the cancellation of the contract," Economy Minister Matej Lahovnik was quoted as saying by Delo newspaper's Internet edition. The idea was also backed by Karl Erjavec, the former defense minister who signed the contract and the current environment minister, Delo reported. Lahovnik said the government had already discussed "whether to simply cancel the contract based on the non-fulfillment of its commitments [by Patria]." Erjavec said the ruling four-party coalition leaders were holding "intense discussions on the possibility" of ending the deal, according to Delo. The previous center-right government signed an agreement with Patria in 2006 for 135 armored vehicles to be delivered between 2008 and 2013 - amounting to the biggest military contract ever signed by Slovenia. But deliveries were delayed after equipment problems arose during tests here last year. Patria has been asked to make changes before the Slovenian army carries out a new test in 2009. "If the Patria vehicles fail on the second quality test it could happen that the ministry will not accept any of the vehicles," Defence Ministrer Ljubica Jelusic told the parliamentary defense committee recently. Ordinary Slovenians have also criticized the Patria deal over the last few months in light of the economic crisis that has hit the tiny state of two-million. The government had already threatened to cancel the contract in 2008, after learning that the Finnish police had launched an investigation into bribery allegations related to the deal. A clause in the agreement allows the government to revoke it in case of bribery.
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