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Canada Lifts Arms Embargo on Turkey, Sparks Outcry from Armenian-Canadian Community

Updated: Apr 18

Canada Lifts Arms Embargo on Turkey, Sparks Outcry from Armenian-Canadian Community

Canada has reportedly agreed to resume military exports to Turkey, specifically air-strike targeting gear used on military drones, less than 3½ years after Ottawa halted shipments. This decision has ignited controversy and condemnation, particularly from the Armenian-Canadian community, as the equipment was previously diverted illegally by Turkey to support Azerbaijan in the war against Armenians.

The arms embargo was initially imposed in 2019 after Turkish forces entered northern Syria, and later, despite the embargo, Canada allowed the shipment of air-strike targeting gear to Turkey. However, the Turkish government misled Canada about its intended use, redirecting drones equipped with the technology to assist Azerbaijan in targeting Armenians during the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Ottawa then suspended export permits for the gear.

Recent reports suggest that Ottawa and Ankara have reached a deal to restart exports of the L3Harris Wescam targeting equipment, pending Turkey's completion of Sweden's NATO membership ratification. The lack of transparency and public information regarding the deal has raised concerns among the Armenian-Canadian community and others.

Armenian-Canadians have strongly condemned the decision, labeling it reckless and a threat to Armenia. The Armenian National Committee of Canada urged the Canadian government to reconsider, citing the risk of emboldening President Erdogan's regime and potentially being complicit in further crimes against Armenians.

Despite this, Canada has not officially commented on the resumption of military exports to Turkey. The Armenian-Canadian community fears that such a move undermines Canada's commitment to human rights, peace, and justice, and sends troubling messages to the international community.

The deal between Ottawa and Ankara reportedly includes a commitment from Turkey to provide information on the end users of Canadian-made equipment, especially if re-exported to non-NATO members. However, arms-control experts question the lack of objectivity in Canada's decision, emphasizing that these assurances should already be disclosed under existing arms-transfer rules.

The Armenian National Committee of Canada has called on the Canadian government to prioritize human rights, international security, and justice over short-term political considerations. They stress the need to uphold principles that define the Canadian people and to take a resolute stance against Turkish government aggression, reaffirming Canada's commitment to its core values.


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