Germany reaffirms limitation of arms sales to Turkey over conflict in Syria

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PHOTO: Defense World

The German government has confirmed a continuation of restrictions imposed on arms sales to Ankara due to considerations related to the conflict in Syria, specifically the possible use of the weapons by Turkey against Kurdish groups, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Tuesday.

In response to a parliamentary question submitted by the Left Party (Die Linke) to the governing coalition, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy outlined the limitations implemented on arms sales to Turkey as well as their reasons.

The ministry indicated that each application lodged by German firms to sell arms or military equipment to Turkey is considered from the viewpoint of German foreign interests and security concerns, even more so since a failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016.

The ministry further confirmed that the risk of German weaponry being used against Kurdish groups or in the context of other regional conflicts is also taken into account during the decision-making process, while denying having any information as to whether that has been the case up until now.

German arms sales to Turkey have been on a steady decline over the last few years, down from €83 million in 2016 to €34 million in 2017 and to around €10 million in the first half of 2018.

While ammunition sales have almost come to a halt, the sale of arms has been mostly limited to previously approved deals or to naval equipment.

Once one of the largest purchasers of German arms and defense industry products, Turkey’s military purchases from Germany have been constrained due to objections raised by the German opposition, degradation in democracy and human rights violations, especially following the 2016 coup attempt, as well as a Turkish offensive in the Kurdish-dominated Afrin region of northern Syria, specifically to rid the area of Kurdish militants from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey views as a terrorist group.

The Left Party, known for its stance against arms sales to Turkey, also enquired about the government’s stance on Turkey’s previous cross-border operations in northern Syria and a possible offensive in the future, reportedly east of the Euphrates River to eliminate the YPG from the area.

In response, the ministry confined itself to reaffirming the German government’s stance against Turkey’s operations and its calls on the Turkish government to avoid military action in Syria, according to the report.

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