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Germany blocks arms sales to Turkey - report

March 22, 2017

The German government has refused approval for military exports to NATO partner country Turkey on a growing number of occasions. Ministers are concerned the weapons could be used to oppress the local population.

Munition 9 mm
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/F. Gambarini

Berlin has rejected more than 10 applications for arms exports to Turkey in recent months, the German daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung" (SZ) reports, citing a letter from the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The ministry was answering questions by the left-wing MP Jan van Aken.

As a NATO partner, Turkey is rarely subject to restrictions on arms exports. But there are concerns that since last July's coup attempt, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a far-reaching purge of political opponents.

Concern over 'internal repression'

"The importance of observing human rights will be particularly important in respect to arms export approvals," a ministry official reportedly said in his reply to van Aken. Since the failed coup, "the federal government's foreign security policy review" has given special consideration "to the risk of an intervention in the context of internal repression of the Kurdish conflict."

According to German government figures, the federal government had rejected eleven individual arms shipments starting November 2016, compared to only eight between 2010 and 2015. The most recent refusals involved weapons, ammunitions and parts for the manufacture of certain armaments.

Likely to cause friction

"This is a first step," van Aken told the "SZ" newspaper. "And next, we must make sure that Turkey doesn't receive any weapons from Germany."

The Left party MP said the Turkish government was waging war in its own country and in Syria and becoming "increasingly dictatorial." 

German-Turkish relations are tense at present after two cities banned campaign rallies by Turkish ministers who sought to address the large Turkish community living in Germany.

On April 16, Turks will decide in a referendum on reforms to the constitution that would give Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan far-reaching new powers.

In response, Erdogan accused Germany of using Nazi measures against his politicians.

Infografik Deutsche Waffenexporte

mm/gsw (dpa, afp)