Turkey laments arms embargo by NATO allies

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said some NATO countries were “weakening” the alliance by not selling defence components to Turkey.

Speaking to a group of journalists in Ankara on Saturday, Akar commented on the NATO alliance.

The United States slapped sanctions on some Turkish defence officials and expelled Turkey from the U.S.-led F-35 fighter jet programme after Turkey purchased Russia’s advanced S-400 long-range missile defence system, over concerns that the Russian technology would put the safety of the fighter jets at risk.

Canada cancelled export licenses for drone technology to Turkey in April last year after finding the equipment had been used by Turkey’s ally Azerbaijan in the conflict with Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh five months earlier.

Arms control advocates had claimed the UAVs were using imaging and targeting systems produced by a Canadian company.

In October 2019, Canada joined a handful of European countries, including France, Britain and Germany, in suspending arms exports after Ankara launched an operation in northeast Syria against Kurdish fighters.

Akar said talks with the United States over a Turkish request to purchase F-16 fighter planes as compensation for the $1.4 billion it spent on the F-35 programme before its ouster, were ongoing. Turkey is also looking to purchase kits to modernise its existing F-16 fleet.

Asked about growing tensions over Russia’s military build-up around Ukraine, Akar said Turkey wanted the dispute to be resolved with the “maximum possible calm and caution.”

He added: “Our vision from the very beginning is this: We are for peace, for the solution of problems through negotiations. Let’s not increase the tension, let’s stay away from any provocative behaviour… That’s why we tell our interlocutors over and over that it is very important to act with caution.”

(A version of this article was originally published by the Arab Weekly and is reproduced by permission.)


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