U.K. lifts defence export ban on Turkey, Canada may follow suit - Çavuşoğlu

The United Kingdom has lifted the defence industry export ban imposed on Turkey, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Thursday, adding Canada is also looking to loosen the ban.

Turkey’s top diplomat made the announcement at a press conference in Brussels, where he attended a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Thursday, Yeni Şafak newspaper reported on Friday.

Çavuşoğlu said that he had spoken with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, in a follow up to item discussed in a meeting between U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last month.

“The U.K. has lifted export restrictions. We are pleased with that,” Çavuşoğlu said, noting that one of the issues of concern was the engine procurement of Turkey’s domestic-made TF-X fifth generation fighter jet.

The U.K. in October 2019 suspended the granting of arms export licences to Turkey for weapons that might be used during military operations in Syria targeting Kurdish forces, the Guardian reported.

Heavily reliant on foreign technologies, Turkey’s TF-X programme began after the country was expelled from the F-35 consortium over its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile systems. 

The director of Turkey’s defence industry last month stated that the country’s top body has begun working with U.K.’s Rolls-Royce on the TF-X engine, Defense News reported.

The Turkish foreign minister on Thursday said that certain countries, such as Canada, had also taken steps regarding the easing of restrictions in the defence industry.

Çavuşoğlu said most important issue on the agenda during his bilateral meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly on Wednesday was the restrictions in the defence industry and that the pair agreed to overcome this issue.

Canada in April of last year cancelled arms export licenses for Turkey's high-tech drone systems, citing proof that Canadian technology was diverted to Azerbaijan without Ottawa's consent in order to be used in fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, CBC reported.

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