Canada Suspends Export Permits to Turkey Amid Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, Foreign Minister Says
21:26 GMT 05.10.2020(updated 21:33 GMT 05.10.2020)
TORONTO (Sputnik) - Ottawa has suspended export permits to Ankara amid accusations that Canadian military equipment is being used in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a Monday statement.
Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Global Affairs Canada would be looking into allegations that Azerbaijan forces are using Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones, equipped with Canadian-made L3Harris WESCAM target-acquisition sensors.
"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," Champagne said.
Canada's top diplomat again called for an immediate halt to hostilities in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region and urged the warring sides to come to the negotiating table.
In the meantime, Ottawa will probe whether Canadian-made equipment is being used by Turkey to commit human rights violations, a breach of Canada's contractual terms when selling military equipment abroad.
Canada suspended the issuance of new military equipment export permits to Turkey last year as well, citing violations committed during its military campaign in northeastern Syria, according to the 2019 Exports of Military Goods report. The report made no mention of sales to Azerbaijan, which some experts have said suggests similar sanctions against Baku.
Armenian officials have accused Turkey of injecting itself into the conflict. An Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman alleged that Azerbaijan had transferred air control of the offensive operation against Karabakh to the Turkish Air Force. Yerevan has also claimed that Ankara has deployed mercenaries from Syria to fight alongside Azerbaijani troops in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Ankara has denied Yerevan's claims, with the vice president of the security and intelligence committee in the Turkish parliament, Mehmet Altay, telling Sputnik that claims of Turkish-backed mercenaries operating in the disputed region are "unfounded."
Since 1991, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been engaged in a conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-majority region that proclaimed independence from what was formerly the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan.
On Sunday morning, clashes occurred in Nagorno Karabakh, with both sides accusing the other of firing first. Armenia has declared martial law and a general mobilization, while Azerbaijan declared partial martial law and a partial mobilization. Azerbaijan has closed its airports to all international air traffic except from Turkey. Ankara has publicly pledged support Baku.
On Friday, the leaders of Russia, the United States and France - the co-chairing countries of the OSCE Minsk Group - called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, expressing their condolences to the families of those killed and wounded. The leaders called on Yerevan and Baku to pledge to resume negotiations without preconditions.
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