Canada suspends arms export permits to Turkey amid concerns of human-rights abuses

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne responds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa on March 9, 2020. Champagne says it is a matter of "fact" that two Canadian planes left China empty of supplies this week.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne has halted military export permits to Turkey.

Champagne ordered an investigation into claims the country was using Canadian technology in the fight between Armenia and Azerbaijan and today announced the freeze in a statement.

"In line with Canada’s robust export control regime and due to the ongoing hostilities, I have suspended the relevant export permits to Turkey, so as to allow time to further assess the situation," he said.

"Canada continues to be concerned by the ongoing conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh resulting in shelling of communities and civilian casualties."

Turkey has stated that it supports Azerbaijan in the conflict but denied claims from Armenia that it backed up this support with troops and fighter jets.

Canadian peace research institute Project Ploughshares says it has evidence that a Canadian-developed sensor technology is being used in Turkish military drones.

Ploughshares researcher Kelsey Gallagher told CTVNews.ca the decision to halt relevant export permits is "welcome news," and shows "Canada’s arms control regime is working how it should" but criticized the timing of the decision.

"These arms have posed a risk in Turkish hands for some time now and really should have tripped Canada’s risk assessment a long time ago, this is kind of overdue," he said Monday.

The Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada, Sevag Belian, also said Monday that he thanks the Canadian government for their decision.

While he said it’s an important step, he would like to see Canada officially condemn the acts of Turkey and work with international partners to "kick them out" of NATO.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that Turkey has no place in NATO. Turkey is most certainly not a NATO ally and the are most certainly not a reliable ally to the Western world. They have nothing that resembles our shared values in the Western world, whether that is democracy, justice, respect for human rights," he said in an interview with CTVNews.ca

Champagne and his British counterpart, Dominic Raab, have expressed concern over the wide-scale military action between Armenia and Azerbaijan and are calling on them to negotiate through the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

In a press briefing on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he has asked Champagne to travel to Europe to work with allies on the "developments in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, particularly in Nagorno-Karabakh."

In line with ����'s robust export control regime and the ongoing investigation, I have suspended the relevant export permits to #Turkey.

���� calls for measures to be taken immediately to stop the violence and protect civilians. pic.twitter.com/mCLmjWKq4G

— François-Philippe Champagne (FPC) ���� (@FP_Champagne) October 5, 2020

With a file from The Canadian Press.

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