Canada removes export permits for drone technology to Turkey and complains to Ankara

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks in a joint statement with European Union High Representative 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 canceled licenses to export drone technology to Turkey after concluding the equipment had been used by Azeri forces fighting Armenia in the Upper Karabakh, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said.

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

“This use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor with end-use guarantees given by Turkey,” Garneau said in a statement, adding that he had raised his concerns with the Turkish foreign minister. Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier today.

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Ottawa suspended permits last October so it could examine allegations that Azeri drones used in the conflict had been equipped with imaging and targeting systems manufactured by L3Harris Wescam, the Canadian unit of L3Harris Technologies Inc (LHX. NOT).

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

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

Embargoed parts include camera systems for Baykar armed drones. Export licenses were suspended in 2019 during Turkish military activities in Syria. Restrictions were later relaxed, but reimposed during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

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

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

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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