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Arms exports suspended amid allegations in Armenia Azerbaijan fight

Canada targeting a sensor made by a Burlington company that is allegedly being used in Turkish attack drones.

October 6, 2020   by Mike Blanchfield

OTTAWA — Canada suspended arms exports to Turkey while it investigates claims that drone-sensor technology created by an Ontario company is being improperly used in renewed fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne announced the new move Oct. 5 after ordering an investigation last week.

Champagne 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.

Champagne said he was suspending the permits to allow time to assess the situation.

“We will gather further evidence to make sure that all exports comply with the spirit and the letter of the law,” he said Oct. 5.

Turkey is a Canadian NATO ally and faces allegations it is involved in the renewed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in a disputed region of the Caucasus.

Turkey, which has military co-operation agreements with Azerbaijan, accused NATO ally Canada of creating obstacles concerning the export of military equipment to Turkey “in a way that does not comply with the spirit of alliance.”

A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement also insisted that Turkey “rigorously” implements obligations stemming from the export control regime.

The ministry statement noted that a UN report has named Canada as one of the countries helping fuel the war in Yemen. The statement also accused Canada of being influenced by Armenian diaspora groups.

“Our expectation from Canada, is to lead a policy that stays away from double standards, to act without falling under the influence of anti-Turkish groups in the country and without being trapped by narrow political interests,” the ministry said.

Canada and Britain have called on Azerbaijan and Armenia to settle their differences in negotiations before the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

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 substantial risk of human rights abuses.

Ploughshares said in the report that Turkey has been using the sensors since 2017 while its military has been trying to put down an insurgency in southeast Turkey and while being involved in military operations in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

The Armenian National Committee of Canada has called on the federal government “to condemn this outright aggression” by Azerbaijan, and to immediately halt arms exports to Turkey.

And Jack Harris, the NDP critic for foreign affairs, urged the Liberal government “to look in the mirror” to ensure it is not being complicit in human rights abuses by failing to properly regulate its arms exports to Turkey.

 


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