Canada has halted some military exports to NATO ally Turkey after a probe confirmed Canadian drone technology was used by Azerbaijan in last year’s fighting with Armenia over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Canada suspended military export permits to Turkey last October pending an investigation into allegations Canadian technology was misused when the Turkish military provided armed drones to support Azerbaijan.
“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,” Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said in an April 12 statement.
“This use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey,” he added.
Garneau said he had spoken with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu about the decision and offered to start a dialogue mechanism to ensure any future defense export permits are in line with end-user agreements.
The export ban affects 29 permits for military goods and technologies, including camera components used in Turkish drones.
The Canadian review found Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 armed drones were equipped with imaging and targeting systems made by Canadian company L3Harris Wescam. The Canadian camera system is exclusively used in the Turkish drones, but no export permits for Canadian sensors were issued for Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan and Armenian forces fought a six-week war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region in the fall, during which Turkish support helped Azerbaijan prevail over ethnic Armenian forces.
Under a Moscow-brokered cease-fire, a chunk of Nagorno-Karabakh and all seven districts around it were placed under Azerbaijani administration after almost 30 years of control by Armenians.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but the ethnic Armenians who make up most of the region’s population reject Azerbaijani rule.
Canada had previously suspended export licenses during a Turkish military incursion into Syria against Kurdish forces in 2019. Those restrictions were then eased, but reinstated during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.