ANCC Statement on Possible Lifting of Arms Embargo on Turkey

The Armenian National Committee of Canada expresses deep concern over recent reports suggesting that Canada may lift its arms embargo on Turkey as part of a larger deal to appease the Turkish regime in exchange for approval of Sweden’s accession to NATO. This potential move is particularly troubling in light of Canada’s recent history with arms exports to Turkey.

Despite Global Affairs Canada imposing a moratorium on arms sales to Turkey in October 2019, Canada allowed the export of L3Harris/WESCAM drone technology to Ankara in the spring of 2020. Disturbingly, substantial evidence confirmed Turkey’s illegal diversion of this equipment to Azerbaijan after Azerbaijan invaded the Republic of Artsakh in September 2020, which later resulted in Canada cancelling the relevant permits. This diversion, in violation of Turkey’s contractual obligations with Canada, resulted in the illegal use of Canadian-made WESCAM drone avionics by Azerbaijan against civilians in Artsakh.

Canada must not be complicit in Turkish-Azerbaijani war crimes by contributing to the expansion of their military arsenals. The sale of such weaponry to rogue states violates Canada’s arms export regulations, posing a significant risk to domestic and regional stability. In line with Canada’s stated priorities of preserving regional peace and security and protecting human rights, Ottawa must go beyond cancellations and implement a comprehensive ban on arms sales to Ankara, rather than lifting them.

Moreover, Turkey has demonstrated a lack of trustworthiness in honouring contractual agreements with Canada, as evidenced by the illegal diversion of weapons to conflict zones. Canada cannot risk repeating such violations, especially as Azerbaijan – backed by Turkey – continues to threaten Armenia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Therefore, we urge the Canadian government to exercise utmost caution and prioritize regional stability, peace, and human rights by refraining from lifting the arms embargo on Turkey and instead enforcing a comprehensive ban on arms sales to Ankara and Baku.

The Armenian National Committee of Canada remains committed to advocating for policies that align with Canada’s principles of promoting global peace, security, and human rights.