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Should Germany send Turkey weapons at all?

Alistair Walsh with DPA
October 18, 2017

Germany has approved fewer arms exports to Turkey in response to the continued imprisonment of German citizens. But opposition figures say the cuts aren't going far enough.

Activists stand in front of a tank
Image: Getty Images/AFP/J. Mcdougall

Germany continued to export arms to Turkey in recent months, but cut the rate dramatically, new figures revealed on Wednesday.

Between August 1 and October 8, 2017, Germany issued 10 export permits for armaments worth a total of almost €€4 million ($4.7 million), the Ministry of Economic Affairs said after a request by the opposition party The Left.

That compares to 213 approvals for arms exports to Turkey in all of 2016, worth a total of €€83.9 million.

Comparing the average monthly approval rates, export permits have dropped to about a quarter of what they were.

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The largest permit in the new range of approvals is for five shipments of aeronautical supplies, worth €€2.8 million. The second-largest was an export "exclusively for the purpose of scrapping in Turkey" worth €€969,000. The rest of the approvals were for smaller orders.

The actual volume of exports since August 1 was €€10.8 million, due to older export approvals.

Read more: German arms exports dip, but still near record highs

In July, the German government realigned its policy on Turkey in response to repeated jailings of German journalists and human rights activists. Travel warnings were tightened, economic guarantees were reviewed and arms exports were to be clamped down upon.

Exports should be halted entirely

The Left party's foreign policymaker Sevim Dagdelen said it was an "outrageous scandal" that arms were still being delivered to Turkey at all. "There must now finally be an arms freeze for Turkey without any ifs and buts," she said.

Dagdelen noted that "innocent citizens continue to rot in Turkish prisons."

Turkey and Germany are partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which would normally preclude them from limiting arms deals between themselves. But Germany relies on a provision that allows NATO partners to limit exports in individual cases under special political circumstances.

Respected German weekly Die Zeit reported that even before the announcement, Germany was limiting arms exports to Turkey. Between January and July 2017, the federal government reportedly rejected 11 applications for the export of arms and ammunition to Turkey. In the first four months of 2017, arms exports to Turkey worth €€22 million were reportedly approved for navy and joint projects with other NATO partners.