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Canada cancels weapons sales to Turkey over Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

Investigation by Ottawa concluded that Turkey deployed drones to Nagorno-Karabakh that used Canadian technology, foreign affairs minister says
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attend military parade for Azerbaijan's victory against Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, 10 December 2020 (AFP)
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Ankara

Canada cancelled all defense exports to Turkey on Monday after an investigation found that Canadian technology was used in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the country's foreign affairs minister said.

Ottawa suspended the sale of advanced drone optics and defence equipment last October amid allegations that Canadian technology was used by Azerbaijan, a key ally of Turkey, during six weeks of fierce fighting with Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Earlier on Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu voiced displeasure over the arms embargo during a call with his Canadian counterpart, Marc Garneau, and asked for a review.

"[The] Canadians told Turkish authorities that they weren't planning to lift the suspension of military export licences to Turkey, on the contrary, they would cancel all suspended military exports licences, even the ones issued in the past," one person familiar with the matter told Middle East Eye.

Later on Monday, Garneau announced that Canada conducted a thorough review of all suspended and valid export permits and would no longer sell military goods and technology to its NATO ally.

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"Following this review, which found credible evidence that Canadian technology exported to Turkey was used in Nagorno-Karabakh, today I am announcing the cancellation of permits that were suspended in the fall of 2020," Garneau said in a statement.

Last year, Ottawa launched an investigation into whether Turkey had violated an end-user licence agreement by selling Turkish armed drones to Azerbaijan.

"This use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey," Garneau added.

Ottawa initially imposed an embargo in response to Turkey's military incursion into Syria in 2019. It partially backtracked on this decision last June and approved the sale of drone optics after high-level talks with Turkey. However, Canada suspended military exports after video footage indicated the use of Canadian-made Wescam optics in drones in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In 2019, Turkey purchased two Canadian Bombardier Global 600 type business aircraft to use as part of locally developed Remote Electronic Support/Electronic Attack Ability in Air Platform (HAVA SOJ).

A Turkish official said last year that Canada also stopped providing the required training and the transfer of know-how regarding the aircraft as part of an arms embargo.

A Canadian firm had also stopped supplying helicopter platforms needed for the national warship programme MILGEM. Turkey has also been importing engines for its Hurkus training aircraft from Pratt & Whitney Canada.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.