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Canada cancels permits for drone technology sales to Turkey

Ottawa previously suspended the exports after Canadian components were used in the Nagorno-Karabakh war.
Smoke from a presumed drone or artillery strike on Oct. 3, 2020, in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh.

Canada’s government canceled authorizations for the export of drone technology to Turkey on Monday after an investigation found Ankara used Canadian weapons technology in last year’s war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Following this review, which found credible evidence that Canadian technology exported to Turkey was used in Nagorno-Karabakh, today I am announcing the cancellation of permits that were suspended in the fall of 2020,” Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said in a statement.

“This was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey,” Garneau said, adding that he spoke with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The Canadian government previously suspended the export of drone optical technology to Ankara in 2019 amid reports of Turkey’s widespread use of drones against Western-backed, Kurdish-led forces in northeast Syria.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government later allowed the sale of a number of L3Harris WESCAM optical systems to Ankara for its Bayraktar TB2 drones last May.

Trudeau’s government then suspended the export permits to Turkey in October 2020 after photos emerged from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict appearing to show a downed Turkish drone bearing a Canadian optical system.

Turkey’s drones played a decisive role in the six-week war, handing Azerbaijan’s forces a swift victory by knocking out Armenia’s armored vehicles and tanks.

Bayraktar has since sought to supply its drone optical systems from Aselsan, one of Turkey’s largest domestic defense contractors.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who chairs the body that owns a majority of Aselsan, has pushed to make Turkey’s defense industry self-sufficient for the country’s military needs.

Despite friction with NATO allies in the Eastern Mediterranean and northeast Syria, Turkey remains a vital US ally, the commander of US and all NATO forces in Europe Gen. Tod Wolters told lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday.

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