Canada to boost arms exports after Turkey supports Sweden’s NATO membership (sources)

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Canada and Turkey have reached a deal to revive Canadian exports of drone parts in exchange for greater transparency on where they are used, and that deal would come into force once Ankara finalizes its ratification of Sweden’s NATO candidacy, two sources told Reuters.

After 20 months of delay, Turkey moved quickly this week to approve Sweden’s membership in the Western military alliance through a parliamentary vote and presidential approval, leaving Hungary as its sole ally. have yet to be ratified.

Turkey is expected to send final documents to Washington as early as Friday, which would allow Canada to immediately lift export controls it adopted in 2020, the two sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The deal was reached in early January after months of negotiations, a person familiar with the process said. A second person familiar with the draft said the parties had agreed it would come into force once ratification by Sweden was complete.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Canadian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Charlotte MacLeod told Reuters that while export controls remain in place, Ottawa aims to resolve the issue with Turkey given its status as an ally. NATO.

“Canada and Turkey continue to have frank exchanges on our bilateral, economic and trade relations,” she said.

Several people in evening wear sit on orange chairs in a large meeting room.
Turkish lawmakers follow the debate on Sweden’s NATO candidacy at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. Turkish lawmakers approved Sweden’s membership in NATO on Tuesday, lifting a major obstacle to the previously non-aligned country’s entry into NATO. Military alliance. (Ali Unal/AP)

Sweden’s lengthy application process frustrated some NATO members because of what they saw as Turkey’s transactional approach, which led to concessions from Stockholm and other allies regarding exports of weapons and anti-terrorism measures.

U.S. leaders said Turkey’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership paves the way for Ankara’s long-awaited purchase of U.S. F-16 fighter jets.

Canada suspended sales of drone technology to Turkey in 2020 after concluding that its optical equipment attached to Turkish-made drones had been used by Azerbaijan while fighting ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh , an enclave that Baku has since recaptured.

Ottawa halted negotiations on lifting them in 2022 when Ankara raised objections to Finland and Sweden’s NATO applications. But negotiations resumed after the NATO leaders’ summit in July last year, Reuters reported at the time.

Transparency for the end user

Under the agreement, Ankara would provide Ottawa with information on the end users of Canadian-made equipment, particularly if it is re-exported to non-NATO countries, the sources said.

The “notification process,” standard in the international arms trade, covers Wescam sensors used in Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones and other dual-use goods and arms-related exports.

The first source said the agreement improves transparency and communication between the parties and aims to avoid a repeat of the 2021 disagreement, when Canada said Azerbaijan’s use of photographic equipment violated assurances of the end user of Turkey.

Ankara has repeatedly criticized export controls as contrary to the spirit of the NATO alliance. In the past, it has also faced trade embargoes from France, Germany and Sweden due to tensions in the eastern Mediterranean and its operations in northern Syria.

While Ankara called on Canada to lift restrictions, it also said it would soon be able to produce the drone parts it imports, including optical equipment, itself. Several countries, including Ukraine, Ethiopia and Pakistan, have purchased Turkish drones after their battlefield successes.

A large white drone is photographed on a runway.  It carries the Turkish flag on one of its rudders at the rear.
A Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drone with its WESCAM MX-15D sensor and targeting system. (Duck Bureau/AFP via Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said it had received Canadian Deputy Foreign Minister Cindy Termorshuizen for talks on “regional and international issues,” without further details.

On Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey’s ratification of Sweden was welcomed by “Canada, Sweden and all Western countries” and was seen as a source of strength within the Organization of the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO).

Under NATO rules, Turkey must deposit the final document – ​​the instrument of ratification – in the archives of the US State Department to complete its ratification by Sweden.

Canada was the first NATO country to ratify Sweden’s candidacy in 2022, following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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