Middle East

Canada scraps export permits for drone technology to Turkey, complains to Ankara

2 minute read

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks as he gives a joint statement with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell (not pictured), ahead of a meeting at the EEAS in Brussels, Belgium, January 21, 2021. Stephanie Lecocq/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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ISTANBUL, April 12 (Reuters) - Canada on Monday scrapped export permits for drone technology to Turkey after concluding that the equipment had been used by Azeri forces fighting Armenia in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said.

Turkey, which like Canada is a member of NATO, is a key ally of Azerbaijan, whose forces gained territory in the enclave after six weeks of fighting.

"This use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey," Garneau said in a statement, adding he had raised his concerns with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier in the day.

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Ottawa suspended the permits last October so it could review allegations that Azeri drones used in the conflict had been equipped with imaging and targeting systems made by L3Harris Wescam, the Canada-based unit of L3Harris Technologies Inc (LHX.N).

In a statement, the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa said: "We expect our NATO allies to avoid unconstructive steps that will negatively affect our bilateral relations and undermine alliance solidarity."

Earlier on Monday, Turkey said Cavusoglu had urged Canada to review the defense industry restrictions.

The parts under embargo include camera systems for Baykar armed drones. Export licenses were suspended in 2019 during Turkish military activities in Syria. Restrictions were then eased, but reimposed during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Turkey's military exports to Azerbaijan jumped sixfold last year. Sales of drones and other military equipment rose to $77 million in September alone before fighting broke out in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, data showed.

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Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu Writing by Daren Butler Editing by Ece Toksabay and Gareth Jones

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