OTTAWA — Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says he’s willing to halt military export permits to NATO ally Turkey if an investigation determines Canadian technology is leading to human-rights abuses.
Champagne declined to say how long his department’s investigation would take, but in an interview with The Canadian Press he said Canada would consult with NATO and other allies to “get the best possible intelligence” about the alleged use of the sensors in question.
“If there was any evidence that these permits would have been misused, I’m willing and I will suspend or cancel any permits,” the minister said.
In October 2019, Global Affairs Canada said it was suspending approvals of new export permits for military goods to Turkey “in response to Turkey’s military incursion into Syria.”
Champagne spoke as Turkey faces allegations it is involved in this week’s renewed fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
He was responding to calls from arms-control watchdogs, Armenian-Canadians and New Democrats to suspend the export of a targeting sensor made by a Burlington, Ont., company that is allegedly being used in Turkish attack drones.
Turkey, a member of NATO with Canada, has said it supports Azerbaijan in renewed fighting with Armenia that broke out Sunday in a disputed region in the South Caucasus separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenia has accused Turkey of redeploying fighters from Syria and F-16 fighter jets to support Azerbaijani forces, but Turkey has denied sending people or arms to the conflict.
The Canadian disarmament group, Project Ploughshares, has issued a report that alleges Turkey is increasingly using a targeting sensor made by L3Harris WESCAM, a Canadian subsidiary of the American company L3Harris, and that it poses a substantial risk of human-rights abuses.
Azerbaijani aircraft are using drones with the sophisticated targeting technology to attack Armenian air-defence systems, troops, armoured columns and other military targets.