France, Germany halt arms export to Turkey over operation peace spring


Sun 13 October 2019:

France joined Germany on Saturday in suspending arms exports to Turkey over its offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria.

In a joint statement from the defence and foreign ministries, France said it had suspended all planned exports of “war materials” to Turkey that could be used in their offensive into Syria.

The Paris statement came hours after Germany, one of Turkey’s main arms suppliers, also said it had suspended exports.

The move came after Turkish soldiers on Wednesday launched a cross-border assault against Kurdish fighters Turkey sees as terrorists in defiance of international criticism and threats of sanctions.

A European Union’s foreign affairs committee meeting on Monday will decide on a coordinated European approach to the issue, the French statement said. 

It noted France’s “firm condemnation of the unilateral offensive engaged by Turkey in the northeast of Syria”.

Germany will not issue any new permits for any military equipment that could be used in Syria by Turkey, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was quoted as saying in the Sunday edition of Bild newspaper.

Last year, Germany exported arms totalling almost 243 million euros ($270 million) to fellow NATO member Turkey – almost a third of its total weapons sales of 771 million euros.

And in the first four months of this year, sales to Turkey – its biggest customer in NATO – reached 184 million euros.

Germany’s population includes about 2.5 million people of Turkish origin.

Responding to Germany’s announcement, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Germany’s Deutsche Welle radio that it was “a question of national security, a question of survival”.

Any arms embargo would only strengthen their resolve, he added.

“Even if our allies support the terrorist organisation, even if we are alone, even if an embargo is imposed, whatever they do, our struggle is directed against the terrorist organisation,” he said, referring to the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG).

Ankara considers the YPG a “terrorist” offshoot of Kurdish rebels who have been fighting an insurgency against the Turkish state for three decades.

Since Wednesday, Turkish troops and their Syrian opposition allies have been advancing under the cover of airstrikes and artillery shelling, reaching the Manbij-Qamishli road about 30 kilometres (19 miles) south of the Turkish border.

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