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Finland permits first defence export to Turkey since 2019

Finnish steel producer Miilux will supply Turkish military vehicles maker with protective material until 2025
The Finnish company will export 12,000 tonnes of armour to BMC, whose 4x4 Kirpi is used heavily by the Turkish military (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

Finland’s defence minister, Mikko Savola, granted a military export permit to Turkey on Tuesday, a first since 2019, when European countries placed an arms embargo on Ankara over a military operation in Syria

Last year, Turkey said it would only ratify Sweden and Finland's accession to Nato if they removed their arms exports restrictions on the Turkish defence sector.

Savola told Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that he personally made the decision to grant export permits for protective steel that could be used for military vehicles. 

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made a foreign and security policy assessment. That assessment was positive," Savola said. 

HBL, another Finnish publication, said Finnish steel company Miilux asked the government for permission to sell 12,000 tonnes of armour for vehicles produced by Turkey’s BMC until December 2025. According to the local media reports, Miilux had an export permit before the 2019 freeze and wasn't able to renew it when it expired in November 2021. 

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Turkish military pension fund OYAK purchased 70 percent of Raahela-based Miilux in April 2019, before the arms embargo had been placed on Turkey. 

The export permit granted for the export of 12,000 tonnes of protective steel (social media)
The permit granted for the export of 12,000 tonnes of protective steel (Social media)

Turkey is likely to hold off ratifying Sweden and Finland's Nato membership until after the Turkish presidential elections in May, the Finnish foreign minister suggested this week. 

Pekka Haavisto said during a news conference that he believed a break was needed in talks between the two Nordic countries and Turkey following anger at the burning of a Quran by a far-right activist outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm last week.

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the military alliance following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but all 30 member states must approve their bids.

Both countries also signed a trilateral memorandum in which they promised to alleviate Ankara’s concerns regarding groups it views as terrorist which are based in the two countries.

The changes would enable the Swedish government to crack down on the recruitment, financing and activities of groups such as the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought a decades-long war against the Turkish state and is regarded as a terrorist organisation by the US, EU and Turkey.

The exports permit decision created a division within the Finnish government. Li Andersson, chairman of the Left Alliance and education minister, said the matter had not been discussed within the government.

"The Left Alliance does not support the export of defence material to countries that are at war or that violate human rights. In our opinion, Finland should not grant an export permit for protection steel to Turkey," she tweeted.

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