Canada scraps export permits for drone technology to Turkey

The file photo shows Turkey’s combat drone Bayraktar TB2. (AFP)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Canada’s foreign minister said his country had 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.

“This use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey,” Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said in a statement on Monday, according to Reuters.

Garneau added that he had raised his concerns with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier in the day.

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.

Reuters said Canada 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.

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

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

The parts under embargo include camera systems for Baykar armed drones, Reuters said. 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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