Danish defence minister apologises for misinforming parliament over weapons purchase

Ritzau/The Local
Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Danish defence minister apologises for misinforming parliament over weapons purchase
Defence Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said he had apologised to parliament over the handling of a major weapons purchase. Photo: Emil Nicolai Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

Defence Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen has apologised to parliament for giving incorrect information in relation to the purchase of 19 artillery cannons for Denmark’s military from Israeli company Elbit Systems.


Ellemann-Jensen said he supports an independent review of the matter.

“There has been a criticisable process”, the minister said at a press briefing at parliament on Tuesday.

“I have now received an outline from both the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Defence Material Procuring Authority,” he said.

“I can unfortunately confirm that parliament unfortunately was given incorrect details. I have apologised for this today,” he said.


The issue relates to the purchase of military hardware from controversial Israeli company Elbit Systems.

Several international banks and pension funds -- including some in Denmark -- refuse to invest in the company on ethical grounds related to its supply of surveillance and other equipment for use in the West Bank.

READ ALSO: Denmark in talks with Israel to replace howitzers donated to Ukraine

In January, the members of parliament’s Finance Committee were only give a short time to decide whether they wanted to accept an offer to purchase artillery guns from weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems.

“The statements show that the wording in the documents that were sent to the Finance Committee on January 26th is incorrect,” the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

The documents gave the impression that the matter was urgent because “the contract with the supplier must be signed as soon as possible and before the end of January”, the ministry said.

In reality, the offer from Elbit Systems had a deadline for reply of June 30th, five months later than the parliamentary finance committee was led to believe.

Ellemann-Jensen said he took responsibility for the issue and apologised.

“I gave the Finance Committee too little time,” he said.

In addition to the issue with the deadline, the reviews have shown that the military’s procurement agency failed to contact all potential suppliers regarding the tender for the hardware purchase, but instead went straight to the 1.7-billion krone deal with Elbit.

French supplier Nexter Systems could also have supplied the weapons but was not contacted, even though parliament was informed that this had been the case.

At Tuesday’s briefing, Ellemann-Jensen said he had “proposed to the [defence budget agreement] parties that an independent review be carried out so that we can clarify the remaining questions” over the issue.


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