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German Arms Sales to Turkey Hit 14 Year High Before Being Slashed Over Ankara’s Syria Op - Report

German Arms Sales to Turkey Hit 14 Year High Before Being Slashed Over Ankara’s Syria Op - Report

German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed Thursday that Berlin would not deliver any new arms to Turkey so long as Ankara continues its controversial military campaign in northern Syria.

Figures from the first eight months of 2019 show that German weapons sales to Turkey were on track to becoming the largest in well over a decade, Deutsche Press-Agentur has reported, citing figures released by the German Economy Ministry.

According to the statistics, German arms manufacturers sold some €250.4 million ($277 million) worth of arms to Ankara in 2019, with that figure more than at any time since 2005.

The figures were released at the request of Germany’s Die Linke opposition, which has criticised both Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Merkel government’s approach to the Syrian crisis.

Merkel called the Turkish campaign in Syria a “humanitarian drama with huge geopolitical consequences,” but lawmakers suggested Berlin should go further and slap Ankara with sanctions. Linke parliamentary leader Dietmar Bartsch accused the Turkish leader of being a “dictator with great power fantasies” and accused the chancellor of being afraid of getting blackmailed by Turkish threats of releasing more refugees into Europe.

Turkey was also the single largest importer of German arms in 2018, with German arms manufacturers selling the country some €242.8 million ($269.8 million) in weapons.

In an explanatory note accompanying the arms sales figures, the Economy Ministry said the Turkey-bound weapons systems were “exclusively merchandise for the maritime sector.” Germany is known to be working to supply the Turkish Navy with six Type 214 diesel-electric attack submarines. The subs are being built at Turkey’s Golcuk shipyard under the supervision of German shipbuilder Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft.

The Turkish Army was previously fitted out with a variety of German weapons, including several hundred German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks, as well as Leguan mobile bridging equipment.

Along with Germany, Finland and Norway have also suspended military exports to Turkey. On Monday, the European Union passed a resolution aimed at limiting arms sales, but declined to impose an outright arms embargo.

Turkish, German-made Leopard 2A4 battle tanks, are stationed in a field near the Syrian border at Hassa, in Hatay province on January 25, 2018. File photo.

Turkey’s Syria Operation

Most of Turkey’s NATO allies have condemned Ankara’s operation in northern Syria, with Washington approving sanctions against Turkish officials and entities on Monday. Ankara has rejected the criticisms, and promised to continue its operation to create a buffer zone on the Turkish-Syrian border which it says will be clear of Daesh (ISIS)* terrorists and Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters (whom Ankara also classifies as terrorists).

*A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

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