OTTAWA – 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.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada issued the following statement: “Last fall, in line with our robust export control regime, the Government of Canada suspended export permits for military goods and technology to Turkey pending the results of an investigation into allegations that Canadian technology was being used by Azerbaijan in the military conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“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.
“This use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey.
“This morning, I spoke with Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, to reiterate Canada’s concern and to initiate a dialogue mechanism between Canadian and Turkish officials to build mutual confidence and greater cooperation on export permits to ensure consistency with end-use assurances before any further permits for military goods and technology (Group 2) are issued.
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.
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.