February 25, 2024

Canada to resume arms exports to Turkey after Sweden's NATO support – sources – 01/26/2024

Canada and Turkey have agreed to resume Canadian exports of drone parts. In return, exports should become more transparent once Ankara approves Sweden's NATO application.

After a 20-month delay, Turkey this week quickly recognized Sweden's membership in the Western military alliance through a parliamentary vote and presidential signature, leaving Hungary as the only ally that has yet to recognize it.

Turkey is expected to send the final documents to Washington on Friday. The two sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it would clear the way for Canada to immediately lift export restrictions imposed in 2020.

The agreement was reached in early January after months of talks, said a person familiar with the process. A second person familiar with the plan said the two sides agreed that the deal would go into effect after Sweden's approval.

Turkey's foreign ministry declined to comment.

Canadian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Charlotte MacLeod told Reuters that while export restrictions remain in place, Ottawa is committed to resolving the issue with NATO ally Turkey.

“Canada and Turkey continue to engage openly with each other in our bilateral, economic and trade relations,” he said.

Sweden's lengthy bidding process frustrated some NATO members because they viewed Turkey as a bargain. This led to concessions on arms exports and counter-terrorism measures from Stockholm and other allies.

US leaders have said Turkey's recognition of Sweden's NATO membership will clear the way for Ankara's long-awaited purchase of US F-16 fighter jets.

Canada suspended sales of drone technology to Turkey in 2020 after discovering that Azerbaijan had used optical equipment attached to Turkish-made drones in its fight against Armenian troops in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

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Ottawa halted talks on lifting sanctions in 2022 after Ankara objected to NATO bids by Finland and Sweden. But talks resumed after a NATO summit in July last year, Reuters reported at the time. (Reporting by Jonathan Spicer in Istanbul; Additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Toby Chopra)