ANCC Statement on the Lifting of Canada’s Arms Embargo on Turkey

(January 29, 2024, OTTAWA, ON) – Today, the Armenian National Committee of Canada issued a statement condemning the decision by the Canadian government to lift its long-standing arms embargo on Turkey.

“The Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) condemns the recent decision by the Government of Canada to lift its longstanding arms embargo on Turkey. This decision has raised alarming concerns within the Armenian-Canadian community, as it compromises Canada’s commitment to human rights, international security, and justice.

“Despite Global Affairs Canada imposing a moratorium on arms sales to Turkey in October 2019, the government allowed the export of L3Harris/WESCAM drone technology to Ankara in the spring of 2020. Following Azerbaijan’s declaration of war against the Republic of Artsakh in September 2020, substantial evidence confirmed Turkey’s illegal diversion of the equipment to Azerbaijan, in violation of its contractual obligations with Canada and resulting in the illegal use of Canadian-made WESCAM drone avionics by Azerbaijan against civilians in Artsakh. As a result of an internal investigation and parliamentary scrutiny, the government subsequently moved to cancel all relevant export permits to Turkey in April 2021.

“Under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has consistently shown a disregard for human rights, democratic values, and the rule of law and has maintained a track record of violating contractual agreements. The lifting of the arms embargo not only contradicts Canada’s longstanding principles but also ignores the ongoing aggression and human rights violations perpetrated and supported by Turkey against various populations, including the Armenian people.

“”The ANCC strongly urges the Government of Canada to reconsider this reckless decision and to adopt a principled stance against the belligerence of the Turkish government. By lifting the arms embargo, Canada will only embolden President Erdogan’s regime and once again risk complicity in crimes perpetrated and sponsored by the Turkish regime, endangering the lives of Armenians as well as other populations in the region. Such a move sends troubling messages to the international community and undermines Canada’s commitment to human rights, peace, and justice.”

“The Government of Canada must end the hypocrisy and prioritize human rights, international security, and justice over short-term political considerations. The ANCC calls on the government to heed the concerns of the Armenian-Canadian community, civil society organizations, and human rights advocates who have tirelessly advocated for justice and accountability.

“While we have taken note of the government’s decision to cancel or suspend permits, should credible evidence emerge of misuse by the Turkish side, we call on the Government of Canada to revoke its decision altogether and take a resolute stance against the Turkish government’s aggression, thereby reaffirming its commitment to the principles that define the Canadian people.”