The Ottawa government says it is suspending its arms exports to Turkey, a fellow member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), over the alleged “improper” use of Canadian weapons in the ongoing clashes between Baku and Yerevan over Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne announced on Monday that the arms sales will remain suspended while Canada investigates claims that drone-sensor technology created by an Ontario company is being improperly used in renewed fighting between Azerbaijan Republic and Armenia.
“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,” the top diplomat said in a tweet.
Champagne was responding to calls from arms-control watchdogs, Armenian Canadians and New Democrats to suspend the export of a targeting sensor made by a Burlington, Ont. company that is allegedly being used in Turkish attack drones.
The Turkish government, an ally of Canada in NATO, faces allegations it is involved in the clashes over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Project Ploughshares, a Canadian arms control group, says video of air strikes released by Baku indicates the drones had been equipped with imaging and targeting systems made by L3Harris Wescam, the Canada-based unit of L3Harris Technologies Inc LHX.N.
The Globe and Mail said L3Harris Wescam had received permission this year to ship seven systems to Turkish drone maker Baykar. Turkey is a key ally of Azerbaijan, whose forces are fighting Armenians over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.
In his Monday statement, the Canadian foreign minister also called for measures to be taken immediately to stop the violence and protect civilians in the ongoing clashes.
Separately, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters he had asked Champagne to travel to Europe “to discuss with our allies the developments in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, particularly in Nagorno-Karabakh”.
He did not give more details and an aide to Champagne said the exact itinerary had not yet been worked out.
Hundreds of people have been killed in the latest outbreak of war over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountain enclave that belongs to Azerbaijan under international law but is governed by a separatist Armenian-backed leadership.