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Germany

Struck Favors Tank Sales to Turkey

German Defense Minister Peter Struck on Thursday said he favors the sale of German Leopard II tanks to Turkey, just five years after his country rejected a similar request by Ankara on grounds that the weapons could be used against civilians in eastern Turkey. "If Turkey makes a request (to purchase the tanks), as minister of defense, I would give a favorable opinion to the (German) chancellor and the foreign minister," Struck said. In Ankara, he told a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Vecdi Gonul that Turkey, a NATO member and a candidate for membership in the European Union, had undergone major changes since the initial German refusal. "An entirely different process has been under way in Turkey over the past five years," Struck said, referring to the slew of reforms Ankara has adopted over the past few years to bring its legislation up to the standards of the EU, which it hopes to join as a full member. Germany had cancelled a deal to sell weapons, including tanks, to Ankara five years ago, saying it feared the Turkish army could use them against civilians in its 15-year war against Kurdish rebels in eastern and southeastern Turkey. (AFP)